Tuesday marks the start of the National Invitational Camp, better known as the NFL Scouting Combine, and the first major milestone of the 2016 off-season.
From February 23rd - 29th, most of the nations top college prospects will descend on Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to show scouts from every single NFL team just what they're made of.
Like the past seven years, I have put together an informative collection of material regarding this years NFL Combine; a Combine FAQ, if you will. By the time you're done reading this, you'll know more than anyone else in the office. If you're a veteran CSC reader, you already know most of this stuff.
Included is a link to take a sample Wonderlic test. We always like to have fun with that so don't forget to take the test and post your score, if you're so inclined.
How did the Combine get started?
National Invitational Camp (NIC), more commonly known as the NFL Scouting Combine, began in 1982 when National Football Scouting, Inc. first conducted a camp for its member NFL clubs in Tampa, Florida. The key purpose then, same as it is today, was to ascertain medical information on the top draft eligible prospects in college football. The inaugural NIC was attended by a total of 163 players and established a foundation for future expansion.
During the first three years, two additional camps were held at different times to collect similar information for teams that did not belong to National Football Scouting. However, in 1985 all 28 NFL teams decided they would participate in future National Invitational Camps with the goal of sharing costs for the medical examinations of draft eligible players. After brief stints in New Orleans (1984, 1986) and Arizona (1985) the camp was moved to Indianapolis, Indiana where it has been operated since 1987.
As football and the art of evaluating players has evolved, so has the NFL Scouting Combine. While medical examinations remain the number one priority of the event, athletes will also participate in a variety of psychological and physical tests, as well as, formal and informal interviews with top executives, coaches and scouts from all 32 NFL teams. NIC is the ultimate four day job interview for the top college football players eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Who is eligible to be invited to the NFL Combine?
- All college seniors are eligible for the NFL Combine immediately following their final year of collegiate eligibility.
- Any underclassmen who declare for the NFL draft and satisfy all NCAA and NFL requirements are eligible to participate.
- Additionally, an athlete who is not playing collegiate football may qualify under a special circumstance in the year that correlates to his natural draft year had he been playing college football. He must first contact the Player Personnel Department at the NFL Office in New York to verify eligibility for the upcoming NFL Draft.
How are players selected for the NFL Combine?
Participants are determined annually by a Selection Committee. The Directors of both National and BLESTO scouting services, which combined represent twenty-six NFL teams, are joined by members of various NFL player personnel departments to form the committee. The participating NFL executives can rotate on a yearly basis, and remain anonymous. ALL eligible players are reviewed and voted on by the committee members. Each athlete receiving the necessary number of votes, by position, is then extended an invitation. While it is not a perfect science, the goal of the committee is to invite every player that will be drafted in the ensuing NFL Draft.
Which players are participating in the Combine this year?
NFL.com has a convenient, fully sortable table of each and every Combine participant this year.
What is the basic schedule?
Tuesday - February 23, 2016 - Offensive linemen, kickers, punters, long-snappers and running backs arrive.
Wednesday - February 24, 2016 - Quarterbacks, wideouts, tight ends arrive. Offensive linemen, kickers, punters, long-snappers and running backs begin medical examinations, and interviews.
Thursday - February 25, 2016 - Defensive linemen and linebackers arrive. Offensive linemen, kickers, punters, long-snappers and running backs have bench press. Quarterbacks, wideouts, tight ends begin medical examinations.
Friday - February 26, 2016 - Offensive linemen, kickers, punters, long-snappers and running backs have on-field workouts. Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends have bench press. Defensive linemen and linebackers begin medical examinations. Defensive backs arrive.
Saturday - February 27, 2016 - Quarterbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers have on-field workouts. Defensive linemen and linebackers have bench press. Defensive backs begin medical examinations.
Sunday - February 28, 2016 - Defensive linemen and linebackers have on-field workouts. Defensive backs have bench press.
Monday - February 29, 2016 - Defensive backs have on-field workouts.
What physical drills do the players perform?
There are six different drills the players are required to perform during the combine. Below is a bit more about each of those drills, from the NFL's official combine home, as well as a link to the NFL's descriptions from last year.
More from NFL.com
The 40-yard dash is the marquee event at the combine. It's kind of like the 100-meters at the Olympics: It's all about speed, explosion and watching skilled athletes run great times. These athletes are timed at 10, 20 and 40-yard intervals. What the scouts are looking for is an explosion from a static start.
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The bench press is a test of strength -- 225 pounds, as many reps as the athlete can get. What the NFL scouts are also looking for is endurance. Anybody can do a max one time, but what the bench press tells the pro scouts is how often the athlete frequented his college weight room for the last 3-5 years.
More from NFL.com
The vertical jump is all about lower-body explosion and power. The athlete stands flat-footed and they measure his reach. It is important to accurately measure the reach, because the differential between the reach and the flag the athlete touches is his vertical jump measurement.
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The broad jump is like being in gym class back in junior high school. Basically, it is testing an athlete's lower-body explosion and lower-body strength. The athlete starts out with a stance balanced and then he explodes out as far as he can. It tests explosion and balance, because he has to land without moving.
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The 3 cone drill tests an athlete's ability to change directions at a high speed. Three cones in an L-shape. He starts from the starting line, goes 5 yards to the first cone and back. Then, he turns, runs around the second cone, runs a weave around the third cone, which is the high point of the L, changes directions, comes back around that second cone and finishes.
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The short shuttle is the first of the cone drills. It is known as the 5-10-5. What it tests is the athlete's lateral quickness and explosion in short areas. The athlete starts in the three-point stance, explodse out 5 yards to his right, touches the line, goes back 10 yards to his left, left hand touches the line, pivot, and he turns 5 more yards and finishes.
Position Specific Drills
These drills vary by position. For a detailed video about each position specific drill, check out the NFL's combine workout page.
What are good benchmarks to hit for each of these drills?
Over at SB Nation's Denver Broncos blog, Mile High Report, someone put together a pretty sweet post including a most excellent table showing benchmarks that players will want to reach, broken down by position and event. Definitely worth the look.
How else are players evaluated?
NFL Team Interviews - Each NFL team can interview up to 60 players at the combine. Questions range in topics from football to personal.
The Wonderlic Test - You can check out the official Wonderlic website. And then learn a little bit more about the test from our very own Hans, who shared a detailed look of the Wonderlic with us.
The Wonderlic Personnel Test is an intelligence test primarily known for being administered to prospective employees for the purposes of recruitment, placement, development and retention. The Wonderlic is a twelve-minute, fifty-question exam to assess aptitude for learning a job and adapting to solve problems for employees in a wide range of occupations. The score is calculated as the number of correct answers given in the allotted time. A score of 20 is intended to indicate average intelligence.
This assessment roughly corresponds to examples from Paul Zimmerman's The New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football. According to Zimmerman, examples of average scores for each position are:
- Offensive tackle - 26
- Center - 25
- Quarterback - 24
- Guard - 23
- Tight end - 22
- Safety - 19
- Linebacker - 19
- Cornerback - 18
- Wide receiver - 17
- Fullback - 17
- Halfback - 16
Here are some notable high scores from years past:
Ryan Fitzpatrick - 50
Drew Henson - 42
Alex Smith - 40
Eli Manning - 39
Brian Griese - 39
Tony Romo - 37
Drew Bledsoe - 36
Matt Leinart - 35
Kellen Clemens - 35
Tom Brady - 33
Steve Young - 33
John Beck - 30
Philip Rivers - 30
Troy Aikman - 29
Brady Quinn - 29
Drew Brees - 28
Peyton Manning - 28
Ryan Leaf - 27
Ben Roethlisberger - 25
Brett Favre - 22
For even more fun, click right here and take a version of the test yourself. Then post your score below in the comment section. Remember that it's a timed test so have something ready to clock yourself.
Measurements - Players' height, weight, arm length, and hand length are measured. Body fat percentage is measured on running backs and lineman.
The Cybex Test - Players are hooked up to a machine that tests their flexibility and joint movement.
Injury Evaluation - Players are given physicals and x-ray examinations.
How can I keep up with the Combine?
I am assuming you mean other than right here on CSC, where we will have live open threads and updated results. The NFL Network will have tons of coverage. NFL.com will also be streaming live coverage. The schedule is listed right there on the page. Top performers will be listed here when workouts begin.