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2010 National Invitational Camp: NFL Combine 101

The last couple weeks have been relatively quiet around the NFL.  Sure there's been plenty of labor chit-chat, and we've had plenty of time to break down the franchise tags, but in reality not much is happening.  Thankfully, we get our first break from the boredom this week.  That's right, it's time for the annual cattle call that is the NFL Combine.

The NFL Combine (real name: National Invitational Camp) kicks off this Wednesday February 24, and will run through March 2.  Although the college all star games are the quasi-kickoff to the draft season, the Combine is when things really kick into gear.  Whether it's a fair determination or not, many players will see their draft stock rise or fall based on their performance.  Each player is in town for four days of activities, and for many of these players, this is arguably one of the most important moment of their career to date.  While their performance during games would seem important, teams will make judgment calls on many players based on what they see this week.

Given the importance that many will place on these results, we should all have a firm grasp on what will be going down in Indianapolis.  NFLCombine.net has some useful information, as does NFL.com, so I thought I'd compile it here for ease of use.  Also, if you get a chance, check out a resource the folks at Mile High Report put together, including a look at recent results.

After the jump we'll look at the various drills that will be taking place, players' schedules and, of course, the schedule of NFL Network coverage.

Physical Drills
Here's 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.

Players' Schedules
The players are placed in one of 9 groups based on their position.  Each group participates in various activities over the course of four days, ranging from interviews, to medical and mental examinations, to the physical drills we all hear about.

The first three groups check in Wednesday the 24th, the second three groups check in Thursday the 25th, the third three groups check in Friday the 26th, and the final two groups check in Saturday the 27th.  As you can see, the first three days are a bit more under the radar, as the physical work-outs do not start until the fourth and final day of the players time.

24th-27th Day 1 Arrivals*: Grp 1(PK, ST, OL), Grp 2(OL), Grp 3(TE)
Wednesday Travel, Registration, Pre-exam & X-ray, Orientation, Interviews
Thursday Measurements, Exams, Media, Psych Tests, Interviews
Friday NFLPA Meeting, Psych Tests, *PK/ST Workout*, Interviews
Saturday Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure

 

25th-28th Day 2 Arrivals*: Grp 4(QB, WO), Grp 5(QB, WO), Grp 6(RB)
Thursday Travel, Registration, Pre-exam & X-ray, Orientation, Interviews
Friday Measurements, Exams, Media, Psych Tests, Interviews
Saturday NFLPA Meeting, Psych Tests, Interviews
Sunday Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure

 

26th-1st Day 3 Arrivals: Grp 7(DL), Grp 8(DL), Grp 9(LB)
Friday Travel, Registration, Pre-exam & X-ray, Orientation, Interviews
Saturday Measurements, Exams, Media, Psych Tests, Interviews
Sunday NFLPA Meeting, Psych Tests, Interviews
Monday Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure

 

27th-2nd Day 4 Arrivals: Grp 10(DB), Grp 11(DB)
Saturday Travel, Registration, Pre-exam & X-ray, Orientation, Interviews
Sunday Measurements, Exams, Media, Psych Tests, Interviews
Monday NFLPA Meeting, Psych Tests, Interviews
Tuesday Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure

 

NFL Network coverage
We'll have plenty of coverage during the week, but as we all know, events like this are why the NFL Network is in our life.  They will naturally have an insane amount of coverage of the Combine.  I went through their Network Schedule and came across this info (this doesn't include their NFL Total Access show which is on throughout the day):

Thursday 2/25

11:30am (all times pacific): NFL Total Access - 2010 Scouting Combine Press Conferences

Friday 2/26

11:30am: NFL Total Access - 2010 Scouting Combine Press Conferences

Saturday 2/27

7:00am: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - General intro type of show about the combine in advance of the first televised workouts.

8:00am: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - K, OL, TE

11:00am: NFL Total Access - 2010 Scouting Combine Press Conferences

1:00pm: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - K, OL, TE

5:00pm: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - K, OL, TE (likely just a repeat of earlier, repeats again at 8:00 and 11:00)

Sunday 2/28

7:00am: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - General intro type of show about the combine in advance of the first televised workouts.

8:00am: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - RB, QB, WR

11:00am: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - RB, QB, WR (Extended Coverage)

1:00pm: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - RB, QB, WR

5:00pm: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - RB, QB, WR (likely just a repeat of earlier, repeats again at 8:00 and 11:00)

Monday 3/1

7:00am: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - General intro type of show about the combine in advance of the first televised workouts.

8:00am: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - LB, DL

1:00pm: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - LB, DL

5:00pm: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - LB, DL (likely just a repeat of earlier, repeats again at 8:00 and 11:00)

Tuesday 3/2

7:00am: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - General intro type of show about the combine in advance of the first televised workouts.

8:00am: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - DB (2 groups)

1:00pm: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - DB (2 groups)

5:00pm: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine - DB (2 groups - likely just a repeat of earlier, repeats again at 8:00 and 11:00)

Wednesday 3/3

5:00pm: 2010 NFL Scouting Combine Wrap-up Show