We're actually into the third day of the combine, but we're really getting into the meat of the workouts today. The schedule starting today is as follows:
Group 1 (OL, Specialists), Group 2 (OL), Group 3 (TE)
Group 4 (QB, WR), Group 5 (QB, WR), Group 6 (RB)
Group 7 (DL), Group 8 (DL), Group 9 (LB)
Group 10 (DB), Group 11 (DB)
Naturally the NFL Network will have wall-to-wall coverage beginning at 8am pacific. If you don't have the NFL Network and are psyched to watch behemoths running numerous drills, nfl.com will be providing coverage.
We've heard all about the workouts (40-yard dash, shuttle drills, 3-cone drills, etc...). However, the position specific drills often get a little less coverage for some reason. At least I've noticed that. If you're curious about the normal measurement drills, I've put details about them after the jump, including some scouts' thoughts on each of the drills.
Today is all about the offensive linemen as far as the 49ers are concerned. ESPN ranked the top 10 linemen heading into the combine as follows (scouts grade in parentheses):
1. Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia (97)
2. Jason Smith, OT, Baylor (96)
3. Andre Smith, OT, Alabama (95)
4. Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi (93)
5. Alex Mack, C, California (90)
6. Jamon Meredith, OT, South Carolina (83)
7. Eben Britton, OT, Arizona (82)
8. Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma (81)
9. Max Unger, C, Oregon (80)
10. William Beatty, OT, Connecticut (77)
For the position-specific drills, nfl.com has a great rundown of each group. For offensive linemen, nfl.com pointed out the kick-slide drill as being one to keep an eye on. Basically, you line up across from a defensive lineman with a dummy back behind you representing the QB. The goal is just to slide down and keep the defensive lineman at bay.
They compare the offensive lineman to a ballerina and watching them backpedal and slide along, I can definitely see it. I'm curious how the drill works with centers. Or are they trying to show versatility since their drafted situation may require a move to guard?
Consider this an open thread for combine discussion. If you see an offensive lineman who really impresses but is not on the above list, throw the name out for the rest of us.
I thought I'd put together a brief rundown of the specific workouts including some scouting insight from around the league:
40-yard dash: With times at 10, 20 and 40 yards, immediate explosion and general speed are measured. The shorter distance times are more important for offensive and defensive lineman, while the 40 yards is key for receivers and backs (offensive and defensive).
Steelers college scout Mark Gorcsak: "We time the 10 to see how fast a player can get off, and if you're a DB, wide receiver or a defensive player that's the closing speed. With the 20, we're looking to see if you have any long speed ... if you build the speed, or if you remain at one speed."
Bench Press: Strength is so important in a league in which players are getting bigger and stronger every year.
Vertical Jump: Essential on both sides of the ball, a quality vertical jump would probably give a team more reason to take a shorter defensive back. The NFC West is loaded with big receivers and quality defensive backs will be essential in the coming years.
Chiefs pro scout Marcus Edwards: "We're looking for how quick and explosive (the athletes) are. From bending their knees and exploding straight up ... The vertical jump is obviously one part of this. But the broad jump is also very important, too, because that's more using your whole body."
Broad Jump: This is a key drill for offensive, defensive lineman and running backs, considering the need for lower body strength in driving forward.
Chargers college scout Tom Gibbons: "It's a standardized test of power, basically. It's been done for years, so it gives us a starting point and something to compare the players to each other. Since we've done it for years, we can also compare these players to the players of the past as well ... The players are ready when they get here. They've been training for these events, and now it's not something to prepare for or get motivated to do. It usually goes pretty smooth and most of the players step right up and know what to do."
3-Cone Drill: Agility and speed is obviously important at any position considering the abilities at the NFL level. Cutting is important for running backs for what I hope are obvious reasons. Thus we have the 3-cone drill to measure these abilities.
Eagles college scout Matt Russell: "Players are required to bend, pivot and shift body weight. What we're looking for is players who can shift their feet and move around ... How this drill translates on the field is different for each position. The emphasis on the three-cone drill differs team by team. When teams evaluate players, these drills ultimately matter."
20-yard shuttle: The 20-yard shuttle is designed to test lateral speed and coordination. The player starts in a three-point stance. When the whistle blows, the players run five yards to one side, touching the yard line. They then sprints 10 yards in the other direction and again touch the yard line, at which point they sprint back to the yard line they started from. Making quick sprints to your left and right definitely seems like a good way to look at coordination combined with speed in your bigger guys.
Eagles college scout Matt Russell: "What we're looking for from players is to drop their weight and accelerate quickly ... Players are always trying to get away with stuff. (In the cone drills) guys will try to run over the top of the cone."
60-yard shuttle: The 20-yard shuttle seems hard enough, just imagine tripling that? One question I have is, if you start at a yard line, go 10 yards left, 20 yards right and 10 yards back to the original spot, isn't that only 40 yards? Maybe somebody out there can clarify it for me. It sounds like this is meant more for the skill position players.