NFL Scouting Combine logo.svg

The NFL Scouting Combine is a week-long showcase occurring every February at Lucas Oil Stadium (and formerly at the RCA Dome until 2008) in Indianapolis, where college football players perform physical and mental tests in front of National Football League coaches, general managers, and scouts. With increasing interest in the NFL Draft, the scouting combine has grown in scope and significance, allowing personnel directors to evaluate upcoming prospects in a standardized setting. Its origins have evolved from the National, BLESTO,[1] and Quadra Scouting organizations in 1977 to the media event it has become today.

Athletes attend by invitation only. An athlete's performance during the combine can affect their draft status and salary, and ultimately their career. The draft has popularized the term "workout warrior", whereby an athlete's "draft stock" is increased based on superior measurable qualities such as size, speed, and strength, despite having an average or sub-par college career.[2][3][4]

History

Tex Schramm, the president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1989, proposed to the NFL competition committee a centralization of the evaluation process for NFL teams. Prior to 1982, teams had to schedule individual visits with players to run them through drills and tests.[5] The national invitational camp (NIC) was first held in Tampa, Florida, in 1982.[6] It was originated by National Football Scouting, Inc. as a means for member organizations to look at NFL draft prospects. For non-member teams, two other camps were created and used 1982–1984. The NIC was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1984. It was renamed the NFL Scouting Combine following the merger of the three camps in 1985 to cut the cost of running the extra camps. It was held in Arizona in 1985 and once again in New Orleans in 1986 before permanently moving to Indianapolis in 1987.

Tests and evaluations

Tests/evaluations include:

Sports writers question whether these tests have any relationship with future NFL performance.[10] Empirical research conducted by Brian D. Lyons, Brian J. Hoffman, John W. Michel, and Kevin J. Williams (2011) found that the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, 20-yard shuttle, and 3 cone drill tests have limited validity in predicting future NFL performance.[11] In fact, the Lyons et al. (2011) study suggests that a prospect's past performance in college is a better indicator of future NFL performance than the aforementioned physical ability tests.

20-yard shuttle

The 20-yard shuttle, also simply called the short shuttle, is primarily run to evaluate the quickness and change-of-direction ability of players. Although not as highly regarded a test as the 40-yard dash, it is still an important barometer used by NFL personnel to compare players. Canadian football also uses the shuttle test.[12]

The name "20-yard shuttle" is derived from the total yards that athletes travel during the drill. This drill is also known as the "short shuttle" or the "5-10-5" drill." The athlete starts at the center cone of three cones, each a distance of 5 yards apart. The athlete then pushes off their dominant leg in the opposite direction for 5 yards and touches the line. After covering this distance and touching the line as quickly as possible, the athlete must reverse and go 10 yards in the opposite direction and again touch the line. Finally, they reverse direction again, ending the drill at the starting point after traveling another 5 yards. The procedure is timed and the athlete starts the drill on reaction to the word "Go" as announced by the person starting the stopwatch. The NFL Scouting Combine allows each participant three opportunities to run the drill, and the best time of the three attempts is recorded as that players' time.[13]

The drill is designed to measure short-area quickness, lateral movement, flexibility and the speed at which a player can change directions. The drill also gives scouts an idea of how well a player can keep a low center of gravity as well as their ability to sink their hips.[14]

Bench press

At the NFL combine, bench press is used as a test of muscle strength and stamina, in which athletes lift 225 pounds (102 kg) as many times as possible.[15] Since 1999, only 17 men at the combine have managed to achieve more than 40 repetitions.