We're just days away from the start of the NFL Combine for 2012's draft and the annual pilgrimage of the nation's elite college prospects to Indianapolis is starting now as guys make the flight to Indy. We'll be wowed by speed, amazed by agility and left shaking our head at some poor diet decisions by some of these guys. In the end we'll come away with a clearer picture of who some of these players are.
Some guys will remind us of why we're skeptical of their ability to turn college stardom into NFL success. Other players will make us think they deserve a shot because of off the chart measurables. In the we can slot some guys higher than before, some guys lower and all the draftniks will go back and forth over why what they saw counts more than what someone else noticed in the same player.
Last year we broke down some of the interesting terminology that you'll hear for the next week out of Indy as well as a little ITB Commentary from awhile back so you can read both of those and I won't bother rewriting what's been said.
As the combine gets going we'll hit on things as they come and of course we'll be on the twitter answering questions, for now I just wanted to do a quick run down of the workout section of the combine.
Everyone knows all about the 40 yard dash. I hate it. Probably because even in my slickest, cheating ways I could never really game that workout to my advantage. Mostly because I was slow. I could work all the takeoff magic, hide my hands and steal a fraction of the segment but in the end, after all the cheating I was not going to run a time that would wow. Especially couldn't do it twice for it to count. You bust out a mid to high 4.5 one time and then back it up with a 4.7 and they know something ain't right.
But, that said the 40 is a great tool, just not my favorite. For wide receivers it is really the only position where there's a truly direct correlation and in that realm I do like knowing a kid can get out the gate and outsprint guys for the pylon.
Now the broad jump is one that I do love, along with the 3-cone, the shuttle and the vertical. These are my straight up faves of the workout portion because I see so much real football in these motions. No you're not broad jumping out there on the field but that two foot explosion from the base? That's tackling and blocking all day. The ankle, knee and hip flexion through explosion and even the arms firing through is how you get bodies on the ground and deliver a pop.
The 20 yard shuttle is one of those accelerate-decelerate-recelerate drills that shows not only talent and ability of also discipline. Looking at the clock is just the start because there is so much more that can be gleaned from this drill. From the start, looking at how a guy loads his plant leg and how close he can cheat to the line shows he's been paying attention as he trained.
Does he go past the line or does he stop before the line and have the flexibility to reach as he's starting to explode in the other direction? Does he waste time by making it a turn instead of a tap and go? Does he sprint through the finish towards the far line or does he just get across?
That's what I'm looking at because while the time is great I can tell who has a good shuttle before the watch is revealed based upon watching them.
The three cone is of the similar ilk as it speaks to understanding the science of the drill as much as the execution of the drill itself. Times are great, seeing a guy sink his hips fire out of the change of directions and sprint through the end matters just as much, if not more. Good body lean, straight lines and not looping, rounding off earn you points independent of time and finishing the drill is always critical.
While most workouts hit on the lower body the bench press stands alone as the weight room test for every player. Equal parts strength and endurance the bench press also tests mindset as guys have to decide if they're willing to push for that last rep at the point of exhaustion. Linemen on both side sof the ball need that upper body strength to block and defeat blocks. Linebackers need it too when you're talking about disengaging from an oncoming guard or fullback, shaking him loose to make a tackle.
Ah and yes the vertical leap. Explosion much like the broad jump but as Michael Schottey over at Bleacher Report points out, different usage of the same ankle, knee and hip muscle groups. For receivers, much like the 40, this is about your ability to get up and jump. But it also sheds light on the takeoff power of other players and their explosive capabilities. Yes, high pointing the ball is a direct result of the vertical leap but there is so much more to be found.
As the week goes on I'll be dropping a list of folks who are "must follows" for the combine as there are so many interesting perspectives exist surrounding individual workouts. As always there will be plenty to debate and discuss as the combine acts as our oasis in the desert of the pre-spring ball offseason.