As collegiate prospects and NFL personnel-men filter into Indianapolis for the start of the annual Scouting Combine, Mike Mayock of NFL Network has run down the specifics of what the importance of every drill is at the combine.
Until the official workouts begin on Saturday when the offensive linemen, tight ends and specialists hit the field, players will participate in weigh-ins and interviews with various teams. When the drills finally do begin on Saturday, each player will participate in their individual position drills in addition to six drills that every prospect partakes in: the 40-yard dash, the bench press, the vertical jump, the broad jump, the shuttle run and the 3-cone drill.
Mayock takes an in depth look into what scouts are looking for from players in the all the drills, but let's start with the two premier attractions at the combine - the 40-yard dash and the bench press.
"Every college player wants to be the world's fastest college player," Mayock says about the 40-yard dash. "The interesting thing is you have to get in a three-point stance. So when you get down in that three-point stance, think about quarterbacks, running backs, defensive backs, wide receivers, linebackers - they're never in a three-point stance. So most of them will work on this event so this event will be their best, because remember, the first 10 yards is critical.
"The pro scouts are looking for three different times on this. Your 10-yard time, your 20-yard time and then what they call long speed, your 40-yard time ... The 10-yard dash, think about it for skill position guys - explosion and quickness from a static start. Now think about the big uglies, the big fellas. We don't care what they run the 40 in; how often is an offensive lineman running 40 yards? What we care about it how powerful and quick they are for that 10 yards, and that 10-yard time will tell you that."
Mayock says that, for scouts, the 40-yard dash, like the rest of the tests at the combine, serves as a double-check rather than gospel.
"When you watch coaching tape you get a feel for how fast that player runs. If the player runs slower or faster in the 40 (than expected), that's kind of a red flag and coaches and scouts will go back to the tape to look at it."
Some of the players at this year's combine who are expected to impress with their 40-yard dash time are running back C.J. Spiller from Clemson, wide receiver Jacoby Ford from Clemson, wide receiver Brandon Banks from Kansas State, wide receiver Taylor Price from Ohio, running back Dexter McCluster from Mississippi, safety Taylor Mays from Southern California and cornerback Patrick Robinson from Florida State.
The bench press, of course, is a totally different animal than the 40.
"One of my favorite drills every year is the bench press," Mayock says. "Pretty simple, pretty elemental and obviously it's a test of strength. But it's also a test of endurance because it's not a one-rep max. I don't care if you can bench 400 or 500 pounds. What this is about is the endurance to be able to take 225 pounds as many reps as you can. Like everything else at the combine, it's very strict. You can't bow your back, you can't bounce it.
"It's very important to do it strictly and what it tests is your endurance. If you just get in the weight room for three or four months, you're not going to rep out at two-and-a-quarter. But if you've been in your collegiate weight room for the last three, four, five years and you're working your tail off, you've got a chance in here, because it's all about hard work, to rep out at a pretty high level."
The bench press is also a good test of a player's competitive spirit, says Mayock.
"The room they do it in is really," he says. "You get a group of guys together that are type-A competitors and the testosterone starts to flow. How strong are you? How much can you rep out? General managers, head coaches, every team in the league is represented in this one room. The players are screaming and yelling for each other, trying to help each other get every last rep that you can get. It's almost the mentality like it's us against the world."
Players to watch in the bench press include defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul from South Florida, offensive tackle Bruce Campbell from Maryland, defensive end Everson Griffen from Southern California and defensive tackle Lamarr Houston from Texas and offensive lineman Jared Veldheer from Hillsdale.
Bloghead will take a look at what to look for from the other position drills later, but check out Mayock's comprehensive take for yourself.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 3:51 p.m., February 24