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What is the NFL Draft Combine?

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
4 weeks ago at 12:03 pm ET
Posted Under: 2023 Patriots Draft

What is the NFL Draft Combine?Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Annually, the NFL conducts the combine in Indianapolis, Indiana.

This is an NFL-sponsored series of tests, interviews, and orientations of 319 Prospective college players eligible for selection in the NFL Draft in April.  The NFL has devised several tools and tests that would evenly and unbiasedly evaluate the physical and mental aspects of the NFL game.  The combine actually began on Sunday, February 26th with the early arrival of the 1st group of players.   This link is the day-by-day schedule:

NFL Network will have more than 50 hours of live coverage of this year’s event, beginning March 2. Here’s the NFL Network schedule:

  • March 2 (3 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET): DL, LB
  • March 3 (3 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET): DB, PK/ST
  • March 4 (1 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET): QB, WR, TE
  • March 5 (1 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET): OL, RB

Monday the Defensive Lineman and Linebackers start the combine.

Registration, Pre-Exams, Orientation, and the all-important Team Interviews are conducted.  Every team submits the names of the players they want to interview.  Teams are allotted 10 min segments in their hotel rooms. A horn blows at the end of the 10 min period and the player is shuffled off to their next interview.  This goes on anytime the players gave free time.

Tuesday General Medical Exams are one of the first things that are performed.  Patriots OT Marcus Cannon was examined at his combine in 2011 and the doctors discovered he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Cannon was a late First / Second round talent.  He dropped to the 5th Round where the Patriots took a chance on him and it paid off handsomely.  He played 10 seasons for the Patriots including last year.

Wednesday they have Orthopedic Exams, Team Meetings, NFLPA Meeting, and Media Availability.

On Thursday they get their Official Measurements (Height, Weight, Arm Length, wing span, and Hand measurements).  These are not what the College teams and agents have been professing.  It’s remarkable how much different they are.  Short arms on D-lineman are a curse.  If an Offensive Tackle doesn’t have 33.5 arm length, he might be pushed inside to OG.   Small hands on a QB or Receiver are not good.  A good example is that Alabama QB Bryce Young is only 5’11” 185 not the 6’ 198 that Alabama has been reporting.   Any Pre-Ordered studies are conducted on Tuesday and the Team Interviews continue.

At some point, the league administers the Wonderlic Personnel Test.  The test is a sort of IQ test used to measure players’ aptitude for learning and problem-solving. The possible score range is 1 to 50. The average football player scores around 20 points and scoring at least 10 points suggests a person is literate.  Bengals punter Pat McInally is the only person to score a perfect 50.  Boston Colleges Mike Mamula is 2nd best with 49 followed by 4 tied at 3rd including former Patriot TE Ben Watson (48).  More about Mamula later.

In the afternoon/evening, the on-field measurements and on-field drills are conducted.  This broadcast by NFL Network over the 5 days starting Thursday afternoon at 3:30.  In all NFL Network will be broadcasting 50 hours of the combine live.

The standard Field Measurements are the 40-yard Dash, Short Shuttle, Standing Broad Jump, Vertical Jump, and the 3-cone drill.  The marquee event is the 40-yard dash and players can make or lose money by how fast they run the 40.  They are measured in 3 increments, 10-yard split, 20-yard split, and the end.  Each has Hand Held times and Electronic Times.  Some scouts strictly rely on their handheld tine.  The Broad Jump shows explosiveness, and the Vertical Jump can make up for lack of height or show exceptional athleticism.  The Short Shuttle or 5-10-5 shuttle (sometimes called the 20-yard shuttle) is a better indicator of quickness and change of direction of a lineman.  The 3-Cone drill shows a quick change of direction ability and overall quickness.  This was once the calling card of the Patriots.  They use to want their DBs and WRs to run under 7.00.  Julian Edelman ran a 6.68, and Tyquan Thornton is fast but not quick as his 7.25 3-cone drill would indicate.

Many athletes don’t perform certain drills at the combine and push them off to their Pro Days.  This is done for many reasons (injury, more time to work on the event, tired from the week of interviews and workouts, comfort with their receivers).

Finally, on Friday the players will conduct the Bench Press weight lifting and then depart Indianapolis.  This is a new schedule requested by the athletes.  They pushed off the Bench Press to the end because a majority of the athletes don’t care about this drill.

This schedule is staggered with a new group coming in every day for 4 days.  See the day-by-day schedule

DBs and Specialists go second, and the third is the QB /WR /TE group to be followed by RB and OL.

Mike Mamula the Workout Warrior

In 1995, Mamula was one of the 1st players to train strictly for the Combine.   He was set up with Brian Boyle of Boston University by his agent Brad Blank.  Boyle’s drills transformed Mamula from a 2nd round pick to the number 7 overall.  Mamula blew away the competition at the combine running a 4.58 40 at 6’4” 260lbs.  He was faster than most of the DBs.  His 38” Vertical Jump was just as impressive.  He had 26 reps of the 225Lb weight lift and a 49 score on the Wonderlic.  His 26 reps were more than Tony Boselli the #2 Overall selection in the 1995 draft.  Smart, tough, plays fast with an edge, was relentless, and had a great work ethic, that was the description of Mamula.  His 13 sacks his senior year made him 1st team all ACC.  He added 4 more sacks in a bowl game for good measure.

He was the perfect example of why you shouldn’t fall in love with numbers.  He was out of the league after just 5 years.

Posted Under: 2023 Patriots Draft

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