More than 300 of the top college prospects in the country will participate at the NFL Combine in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis during the next week. This event allows NFL scouts the opportunity to view potential draft choices as they showcase their speed, agility and strength for executives, coaches, scouts and doctors from all 32 NFL teams.
Essentially, the Combines are like an Olympics in advance of the NFL Draft, which will be held this year at Radio City Music Hall in New York City from April 26 - 28. The athletes have trained all their lives for this competition, and how they perform will significantly impact their future.
During the Combines, the players compete in a series of drills, including the 40-yard dash, bench press (the number of reps a player can do at 225 pounds), vertical jump and broad jump (both measure lower-body explosion and power), and the three -cone drill (an agility test that measures a player's ability to change directions at a high speed). Durability is important. Evaluators aren't looking for someone who can lift 400 pounds one time; they are more interested in endurance. The number of reps a player can do is an indication of how much time has been put in at the weight room.
Scouts will look for speed, explosiveness, agility, and how players use their hands. For quarterbacks, they examine footwork, ease of motion, and throwing accuracy.
Physical prowess is not the only thing that teams will measure. Each player will go through interviews to determine their level of intellect and poise. Do they understand the game? Are they passionate about playing football...or are they more interested in the fame, glory and lifestyle associated with it?
The athletes will be asked about their practice habits and their background. Teams will take notice of who accompanies them. Do they arrive with a coach and a family member or a ten-person entourage? If a 21-year-old comes with a group of handlers and groupies, red flags will be raised.
There are psychological tests. The prospects will answer behavioral interview questions that will provide insights into aspects of leadership and sociability. For instance, if a player scores too high sociability, there is a risk that he might enjoy the nightlife a little too much. He may not be the right fit in a place like New York, which offers late nights and many temptations. Some of the questions will measure the athlete's ability to think through the consequences. This is critical both on and off the field.