Breaking Down the NFL Combine Drills

The 2017 Scouting Combine is days away, and when prospects convene at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, they'll have a chance to help their draft stock significantly. In preparation for the combine, here's a look at the assortment of drills the NFL hopefuls will participate in.

40-yard dash

The most popular event at the combine, the 40-yard dash tests players' straight-line speed. The overall times are important for running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs. When broken into 10-yard splits, though, data from the 40 can tell evaluators a lot about one's get-off and explosiveness, which is important for front seven defenders, offensive linemen and tight ends. One scout told CBS Sports he knows people around the league who "value results in this category more than any other."

20-yard and 60-yard shuttles

These drills, which require the athlete to start in a three-point stance and run side to side until he's reached the desired distance, test agility and lateral movement. Performance in this drill is vital for lots of players – namely running backs, offensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs. Because Atlanta's outside zone blocking scheme requires its OL to be quick, centers, guards and tackles can impress Falcons scouts by faring well in these events.  

3-cone drill

For this drill, three cones are placed five yards from each other at a 90-degree angle. Beginning in a three-point stance at one of the end cones, the player runs to the middle cone, back to the start, around the middle cone, around to the far cone, then back to the middle cone and, finally, to the starting point. Edge rushers are expected to run quick times in this event because it shows how quick they are and how well they change directions. Linebackers, defensive backs running backs can gain a lot from the three-cone, too, according to Mike Mayock.

Vertical and broad jumps

The two jumping drills can illustrate a player's lower-body strength. Because one must jump from a standing position – running starts are not allowed – the legs get meaningfully tested. These drills are important for wide receivers and tight ends, of course, given how often they are asked to leap in the air. While edge rushers and linemen don't need to jump like Michael Jordan, lower-body strength is valuable when battling at the line of scrimmage.

Bench press

Upper-body strength is essential for offensive and defensive linemen, making the bench press a popular event for those players. It can also be telling for tight ends who earn their stripes as blockers. That being said, many consider it to be an overrated, and potentially misleading, exercise. It's more difficult for players with longer arms, and weight room strength doesn't always translate to field strength. A total far above or below the average can make headlines. But as the scout interviewed by CBS Sports mentioned, "If we forgot to do this drill at the combine, no one would miss it."

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