The NFL is hosting a week-long job fair in Indianapolis, Ind., this week, better known as the 2015 Scouting Combine. More than 300 pro prospects will make their way to Lucas Oil Stadium to be tested, interviewed and evaluated by general managers, coaches and scouts from all 32 NFL teams, each searching for the best college football players to help make the biggest impact to its club as early as next season.
Known as a vital path to the NFL Draft, the high-profiled event runs Feb. 17-23 and includes on-field workouts by players, separated by positions:
Friday, Feb. 20: Specialists, offensive linemen, tight ends
Saturday, Feb. 21: Quarterbacks, running backs wide receivers
Sunday: Feb. 22: Defensive linemen, linebackers
Monday, Feb. 23: Defensive backs
During their scheduled workouts, players will be tested in a variety of ways, including psychological, socially (interviews with teams) and physically by measurable drills. We've included a brief description of the drills below as well as some past results from current and former Falcons players.
Similar to the 100-meter dash at the Olympics, this event steals all headlines, showcasing speed and explosiveness. The players are timed at the 10, 20 and 40-yard intervals, each trying to wow the scouts who are watching nearby. Falcons cornerback Robert Alford registered a jaw-dropping 4.34-sec. time at the Combine in 2013. Before 40-yard dash results were kept by electric timers, as opposed to being hand-timed and prone to error, former Falcons cornerback, Hall-of-Famer Deion Sanders ran a blistering 4.21-sec. 40-yard dash in 1989.
If there is a test that gives the 40-yard dash a run for its money in the most-popular category at the NFL Scouting Combine, it's the bench press test, measuring strength and endurance. The players will bench press 225 pounds as many times as possible, giving scouts a clear indicator of who has been visiting or avoiding the weight room during college. In 2010, Falcons center Joe Hawley finished tied for fifth best in the event with 35 reps.
The basketball-related portion of the testing takes place during the vertical jump. Players will be evaluated for their lower-body explosion and power. During his prime Combine performance, Alford, who has bested all Falcons since 2006 in this category, jumped 40 inches in the air, wowing the crowd.
This drill is like a throwback to gym class in junior high school, testing an athlete's lower-body strength and explosion. Balance will also be tested as each athlete is required to finish the jump with a strict landing, including no movement. The legend of Julio Jones was born at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, participating in drills with a broken bone in his foot, finishing with a top jump that covered 135 inches.
This drill almost serves as a look at which athlete does the best cheetah impression, testing to see how quickly the players can change directions at high speeds. Three cones are set up in an L-shape as the players begin from the starting line, run five yards to the first cone and back before turning and running around the second cone, then weaving around the third cone, finally change directions to come back around that second cone and finish. Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas proved to scouts he can get in and out of routes quickly, finishing the drill in 6.57 seconds in 2008.
Short Shuttle Drill
Often referred to as the 5-10-5, this drill tests the athlete's lateral quickness and explosion in short areas. The athlete starts in the three-point stance, explodes out 5 yards to his right, touches the line, goes back 10 yards to the left, where his left hand touches the line, and then he pivots before the final 5-yard finish. Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant recorded a 3.85-sec. performance to help boost his draft status; the Falcons chose him with their 22nd-overall pick in 2013.