2012 NFL Combine: What to Watch For

Tom Brady NFL Combine

It is time for the 2012 NFL Combine.

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

With so much build up and hype surrounding the combine and more specifically the 40 times, it’s easy to over look the more important aspects of the scouting combine.

The 40 yard dash is one of the most overrated events at the combine. There are a number of more important drills and evaluations that take place at the combine. Here are the ones I’ll be watching.

1. The Weigh In and Measurements

The weigh-in is one of the first things that happens upon arrival in Indianapolis and for some players it’s the most important. Speed, agility, vertical jump can all change to some degree.

However, players can’t change how tall they are, how long their arms are or how big their hands are. Some players may be immediately removed or red flagged on a teams board do to their weigh-in results. Many teams and agents love to puff those heights and weights up in the media guide, so there are always some surprises.

I will be closely watching to see if any players measure significantly shorter than their listed height. It’s also always a red flag when a player reports to the combine out of shape or over weight. We all remember the pictures of Andre Smith in 2009. Arm lengths will be important for offensive and defensive linemen and I’ll be looking at hand size for the skill position players.

2. Medicals

Each player is given a thorough medical and psychological evaluation at the combine. Every year an injury or medical condition that wasn’t known about previously pops up. Whether it be one like the stress fractures in Michael Crabtree’s foot in 2009 or the life saving discovery of the cancerous mass in Marcus Cannon’s stomach.

This is especially important for players like Jared Crick and Greg Childs who missed most of the season due to injury, to see how they have healed and if they are recovered from their injuries. Rest assured that something will pop up this year that will cause a shake up to the draft board.

3. Position Drills

I put much more stock in the position drills at the combine than I do in any one individual drills. For QBs, the throwing drills will showcase their ability to make NFL throws with an emphasis on their arm strength. For WRs it’s how good their hands are and how many balls they drop under the intense pressure of the combine.

The combine is set up to showcase almost everything for each position. For offensive linemen I am looking for how quickly they can “kick and slide” to get to a speed rusher. For defensive linemen and linebackers I am looking for hip, knee and ankle flexion and their ability to play low and with leverage. What I love to watch most is the DB drills as it is fairly easy to see which DBs have quick hips and play fluid. The position drills are much more practical and have a much better in game pertinence to them than the generic drills.

3. 3-Cone Drill

As a scout we all tend to look at different things and place a higher value on them than others. One area I place a high value on is short area quickness and change of direction. The 3-cone drill is a drill that highlights quick change of direction ability. This drill is especially vital for corner backs, wide receivers and pass rushers. For a CB they need to be able to change direction at high speeds and turn to run with a WR. For a WR they need to be able to change direction and turn on a dime to get open. Pass rushers need to be able to turn at a high speed to get around an offensive tackle.

The best time in recent years was set by Oregon WR Jeff Maehl at 6.42 seconds. A good time in this event is anything between 6.7-6.95 seconds depending upon the position. Some teams value this more than others, the Patriots being one of them as I wrote in my WR case study. In 2010 Devin McCourty ran a 3 Cone of 6.7 flat and was in the top ten of the position.

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11 Responses to “2012 NFL Combine: What to Watch For”

  1. TD says:

    I would say watch some of the interior linemen as I think BB is trying to get OL’s that can run block better than Connolly, Waters and Koppen in order to unleash Ridley & Vereen in 2012.

    We also need some better special teamers, mostly kickoff returners.

    I expect some free agent signings to help in the secondary, maybe Tyvon Branch and/or Goldson. It seems as if safties now are not the big thumpers in the past, but more cover guys.

  2. qwerty says:

    excellent article

  3. MJP says:

    Another guy who is overrated but will probably wow people at the combine is Michael Brockers….check him out vs. Miss St, UCLA and Georgia…..he’s barely a factor…not sure how he’s a top-10 pick….top-20 or top-30, that’s a better spot to take a kid who you’re projecting to such a great extent.

  4. MJP says:

    I would say the same thing about Melvin Ingram despite the fact that he’ll probably run in the 4.7’s. He’s less balanced than Upshaw but more athletic, he might be able to play in space and has a better chance of threatening the edge and countering with outside-in moves/spins….there isn’t a whole lot of separation between he and Upshaw though.

    I’m still not sold that Ingram is a legit 3-4 OLB, I can see him struggling to beat NFL OT’s, probably a better fit as a 4-3 DE.

    I want to see a DE who can play with leverage and has a good pad level because he’s fluid, not because he’s 6’1”….a 3-4 OLB should be able to threaten the edge consistently and bend to find the corner or cut back inside with a strong move.

    I think Nick Perry is the better prospect and I would put Vinny Curry up there too, both have that bend, use their length pretty well and play with leverage….there not elite or polished but the upside is definitely there.

  5. MJP says:

    I think Courtney Upshaw might run a 4.8 or 4.85, I’ve been trying to see why he’s so highly rated but it remains a mystery.

    I’ve seen get handled by TE’s and stonewalled by OT’s….I think a lot his hype comes from how solid that Defense is all-around.

    There’s very little that I’ve seen that suggests he’ll be a 3-4 OLB who can rush the passer and play in space. A lot of his sacks were not impressive, only against MSU was able to find an instance where Upshaw beats the LT to the edge cleanly.

    I do think he has a great motor, and he is a balanced kid who can be a load to deal with, he’s strong and thick as a bull…..I just don’t see the top-10 or top-15 pick that everyone seems to be projecting.

  6. Ron says:

    Gerald Sensabaugh has the combine vertical leap record in 2005
    with a jump of 46 inches

    Cameron Wake also beat the player you mentioned as he jumped
    45.5 inches also in 2005

  7. Tom says:

    Hahahahaha Look at that wimpy looking kid! I bet he won’t even get drafted!!

  8. TD says:

    Heard Russ Lunde say on Sirius NFL that the most important thing is the physicals, which is what the combine was first meant for.

    He also said that the drills help substantiate or uncover athletic ability to a point of the small school players and possibly help them get drafted.

    • Jim R says:

      Think you are right. Most times these workout wonders will strike gold if a team gets fooled by 40 times (raiders). Does not take a genius to figure out these guys drop weight to enhance the speed. Game film, Game film, Game film.

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