The “Underwear Olympics” – otherwise known as the NFL Scouting Combine – is back!

It’s every casual fan’s favorite event to reference when trying to imply that they are actually diehards. On the other hand, it is contrarily often the least favorite draft process event of true diehards and talent evaluators, as it assumes the primary role in prospect scouting, despite only being a small part of the picture.

With all of that being said, the significance of this event – while bloated by tv networks over the last few years – lies in the private team interviews, the medical examinations, the official physical measurements, and the brief on-field training exercises. With the extravaganza having already begun on Tuesday, the television coverage and workouts will not start until today – Friday, March 1st. Here’s a breakdown of what to watch for and how the Combine can help paint a better picture of these prospects…

Oh, it should also be noted that Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray measured in on Thursday morning at 5-foot-10, 207 lbs. So thrilled with his bigger than expected measurements, Murray is done for the rest of the event. He’ll still have a physical and meet with teams, but otherwise, he will not participate in any drills. This was his equivalent to Deion Sanders running the 40 and walking right into the locker room, never to be seen again at the 1989 Combine. He showed scouts all that they needed to see.

Schedule of Events



Running backs, offensive linemen, place kickers, and special teams participants take the field for the first day of on-field workouts.



Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends take the field for the second day of on-field workouts.



Defensive linemen and linebackers will take the field for day three of on-field workouts.



Watch as defensive backs take center stage… Also, NFL Network analyst Rich Eisen does his annual 40-yard dash for charity to wrap up the week of events in Indy.

Drills, Tests, and What to Watch For...

40-Yard Dash

| According to |

“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.”

| Who to Watch For |  

The 40-yard dash, while not the best indicator of who will necessarily be the best NFL player, has always been and always will be the most famous and most intriguing thing about the NFL Combine. Just two years ago, then Washington Husky and now Bengals receiver John Ross ran a blazing 4.22 in the 40, breaking the 2008 record of 4.24, previously held by running back Chris Johnson . It appears this year that there are no prospects within striking distance of Ross’ record, however ESPN’s Todd McShay notes that there are at least five guys who can get under the elusive 4.40 mark. Those names include a pair of Ohio State teammates Kendall Sheffield and Parris Campbell, tiny UMass slot receiver Andy Isabella, Georgia wideout Mecole Hardman, and the Greek God himself D.K. Metcalf – wide receiver out of Ole Miss.

Metcalf running that number would be the most interesting being that he’s absolutely massive (6-foot-5, 230 lbs.) and would potentially be the heaviest player to ever run under a 4.40. As for the other names, all are former sprinters in some way or another and also are largely considered top-100 prospects. With that being said, there is plenty of intrigue and impact to look out for with the expected top performers in the drill.

As for the non-skill position guys, the 40-yard dash remains important, just in other ways. For edge defenders or even up-field interior defensive linemen, the number to look out for is the “10-yard split.” This number follows the initial 10 yards of the dash, tracking a player’s potential burst, most likely an indicator of speed and explosiveness off the edge at the snap of the football. The number you want edge players to be under is 1.65 in this category, with size and weight being taken into account of course. Anything below 1.60 is elite for the edge position. Notable names under that threshold include Jadeveon Clowney , Cliff Avril , Mario Williams, Chris Long , Vic Beasley , Von Miller , and Bruce Irvin . It is no secret that this draft class is loaded with edge talent and explosive interior defensive linemen, so there will be plenty to watch on Sunday as well. Particular names to take note of include Josh Allen of Kentucky, Jachai Polite of Florida, and Brian Burns of Florida State. All three are speed reliant edge specialists, meaning that their draft stock may almost be completely tied to their 10-yard splits. All three are considered first round locks, however if any of them break the 1.60 mark, they may be top-five locks as well. Other names to watch include Ed Oliver of Ole Miss and Rashan Gary of Michigan. Oliver is undersized for his defensive tackle position and there isn’t much he can do about that, however if he runs a fast enough number, he may be able to create a narrative claiming that he’s just too athletic to pass up. His tape is there in spades as well. Gary may be the exact opposite, as he is a superior athlete and built as prototypically for the position as possible, however his production and tape from college is lacking. He should run very well, but if he doesn’t, his draft stock may be in trouble.

Bench Press

| According to |

“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.”

| Who to Watch For |

As puts it, the bench press is less of an indicator of strength for all NFL players, but rather it is really checking on who commits themselves in the weight room. That’s not to say that every lineman has to rep over 35 times, but rather it is important to give each position some benchmarks – no pun intended. Linemen on both sides of the ball are typically expected to at least threaten the 30 mark, while tight ends and linebackers want to at least get into the low 20’s. You want to see running backs in the upper teens at least, and really anything above 15 for the other positions is just gravy.

On Thursday, the offensive linemen and running backs already got their benchmarks set (again, no pun intended), but unfortunately it was off camera, taking the fun out of our exercise here. Before previewing the rest of the guys to watch on the bench going forward, it should be noted a few of the standout offensive linemen and running backs… Iosua Opeta set a mark on Thursday that will likely not be touched for the rest of the week in Indy, as the Weber State offensive tackle repped 225 lbs. 39 times! Opeta became only the 21st player in the last 20 years to reach 39 reps. Coming in tied for second were running back Alex Barnes of Kansas State and offensive lineman Garrett Bradbury of NC State. They each repped out 34 times, making Barnes only the third running back in the last 15 years to reach that mark. Still to come in this workout are the defensive linemen, the linebackers, wideouts, quarterbacks, and defensive backs. Of them, the skill positions and the defensive backs just need to find a way to get over the 15 mark, while undersized linebackers David Long and of West Virginia and Devin Bush of Michigan need to really show up big at the bench to prove that they are not only strong enough, but possess an explosive enough upper body to ward off would-be blockers. Also, keep an eye out for Clemson edge defender Austin Bryant, who started along that talented defensive line this past season, but received far less fanfare than the other three. He possesses a nice skillset and high motor, but right now his big question mark is underwhelming play strength. A nice bench number could help better his draft stock.

Three-Cone Drill & Shuttle Run

| According to |

“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.”

“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, explodes 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.”

| Who to Watch For |

Of all of the drills and tests conducted at the NFL Combine, the three-cone and the shuttle run may be the most important and the most indicative for a true NFL evaluation. This isn’t just for skill position players either, but rather for all positions and all players. Want to know how well a wide receiver can change directions in and out of his routes? Check out his three-cone and shuttle time. Want to know how a left tackle will do against a 1v1, twitched up edge rusher, or how a center will do taking on a linebacker after pulling to the second level? Check out his three-cone and shuttle time. Want to know how well a cornerback can mirror a wide receiver in and out of his breaks? Well, you get the idea…I can keep going on with examples, but instead, just take my word that the main reason these drills work is because they were designed to test how a player will react in space – the most important general skill of an NFL player.

This year, with the elite talent on the edge and interior defensive line, I’m curious to watch those guys do these two drills the most on Sunday. Generally, anything under a 7.0 three-cone for a defensive linemen/edge player should lock them into safe production throughout their NFL careers. Notable names who have achieved this include: T.J. and J.J. Watt , Von Miller , Joey Bosa , Myles Garrett , and Melvin Ingram . As for guys to watch this year... truth be told, I’m paying attention to everyone considered within that top-100 range because this drill is really that important, especially for edge players. Particular guys who need a big day though, include the same names from my list of 10-yard splits: Josh Allen of Kentucky, Jachai Polite of Florida, and Brian Burns of Florida State, as well as Ed Oliver of Ole Miss and Rashan Gary from Michigan. In the skill position department, I’m looking to get a better understanding of the agility of wide receivers N’Keal Harry out of Arizona State, Hakeem Butler out of Iowa State, and Lil’Jordan Humphrey out of Texas. As for running backs, we know how fast and explosive Darryl Henderson out of Memphis is, but there are some serious concerns with his open field agility. Elijah Holyfield out of Georgia is also a guy who can help his stock with good shuttle and three-cone times.

Vertical Jump & Broad Jump

According to |

“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.”

“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.”

Who to Watch For |

These jumping drills are usually reserved for us to watch defensive backs and edge rushers go nuts. Then UConn safety and now Cowboys corner, Byron Jones set the world broad jump record a few years ago with a leap over 12-feet! Historically, guys like Von Miller Eric Berry Vic Beasley Patrick Peterson , and others of the ilk have shown tremendous ability in these two drills. For this year’s class I will be paying close attention to cornerbacks Greedy Williams (LSU) JoeJuan Williams (Vanderbilt) and Isaiah Johnson (Houston), because of their super long frames and explosive lower bodies. They should be able to put on a show. Guys who need to show me something include Chase Winovich of Michigan, Kris Boyd of Texas, Byron Murphy of Washington, and Austin Bryant of Clemson.

I’m also selfishly anticipating what Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf can do in these drills because just from the looks of his instagram workout posts, he is preparing to annihilate the combine.

Quarterback Position Drills

| Who to Watch For |

At the combine, quarterbacks are asked to take a snap from under center and throw the football to wide open receivers and then one-on-one receivers. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, for quarterbacks, this is likely the most important and nerve racking part of the entire week-long event. Most of them – due to the simplistic and spread oriented nature of college/high school offenses – have never taken a snap from under center, let alone taken 3-step, 5-step, and 7-step drops, while throwing to the complete NFL route tree. On top of that, they will be throwing to equally inexperienced receivers and ones they likely have never worked with before. What scouts are looking for is how natural the quarterback looks taking a snap, going through the different drop back mechanics, and most importantly how powerful and accurate their arm is capable of being.

We already have gotten word that Kyler Murray (Oklahoma) will be abstaining from throwing this weekend, which leaves us with the rest of the bunch. The most important ones to watch for are Daniel Jones out of Duke and Tyree Jackson out of Buffalo. The two are polar opposites in that Jones struggles with arm strength where Jackson has an absolute cannon. Jones has aspirations of going in the first round, so proving that his arm strength and accuracy are better than expected could go a long way. Jackson on the other hand may get day two consideration if he can just complete a few passes with NFL level accuracy and without breaking the hands of his intended targets. Last year, my “poetry in motion” pick for this drill was Josh Rosen , as he looks so unbelievably natural as a thrower. This year there isn’t a Rosen level passer, in terms of flawless mechanics and natural ability, however there are a few more names to follow closely. I love the incredibly quick mechanics of Washington State’s Gardner Minshew, and the seemingly rubber arm and easy gas from Missouri’s Drew Lock. Another name to note here is Jarrett Stidham out of Auburn, as without a pass rush bearing down on him, he may be the most naturally gifted passer in the entire class.

Running Back Position Drills

| Who to Watch For |

The important drill for this position group is the Off Tackle Reaction Drill, which tests running backs most important attributes at the position – speed, acceleration, agility, and vision. In a lot of ways it separates the workout warriors from the natural runners because while anyone can train to become great at the 40-yard dash and the three-cone, bringing all of those skills into one drill is what will prove who has the talent at a second nature’s disposal. Guys who I’m excited to see this week include Devin Singletary and his LeSean McCoy level skill-set, Darryl Henderson of Memphis – who needs to prove that he’s more than a straight line home run hitter – and Trayveon Williams of Texas A&M – who can potentially build a complete running back resume with success in this drill, as he is a guy looking to prove NFL level vision and multiple gears as a runner.

Wide Receiver & Tight End Position Drills

| Who to Watch For |

For the pass catchers, The Gauntlet is the most important drill to keep an eye on, as it tests a receiver’s quickness, reaction time, hand-eye coordination, consistency, perseverance, and most importantly – hand catching ability. Most broadly, anyone who considers themselves a receiving prospect needs to do well here, however those with a history of drops or “body catching” will have no better platform to prove critics wrong. I’m most focused on UMass slot receiver Andy Isabella this week, as he is blazing fast and a high volume target, however with his mere 5-foot-8 frame and small hands, he struggles as a body catcher on tape. In order to avoid slipping into day three of the draft, he will need to show up big in this drill. The same goes for Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow,as he has some of the smallest hands ever recorded at the combine (7 ?). N’Keal Harry of Arizona State, while contrairly big bodied, showed some focus drops and inconsistent hands on tape and will look to use this drill to better his reputation. Some tight ends I’m interested in include T.J. Hockensen of Iowa, Noah Fant of Iowa, Irv Smith of Alabama, Isaac Nauta of Georgia, and Jace Sternberger of Texas A&M.

Offensive and Defensive Linemen Position Drills

| Who to Watch For |

In the trenches at the combine, offensive linemen will be most importantly tested in the Kick Slide Drill, which tests their ability to react quickly out of a stance and wall off edge pressure, while using proper footwork and technique. Scouts will be looking attentively at defensive linemen for their initial burst off the ball and how well they can combine their pass rushing maneuvers while trying to get to the quarterback. O-Linemen who need to perform well in their most important drill includes, well, everyone, but I would say Kaleb McGary out of Washington has the most to prove due to his massive size (6-foot-7, 323 lbs.) but subsequent short arms. On top of all of that, he has seemingly slow feet on tape, leading many to believe that his future is inside at guard. If he wants to remain at tackle, he has to show up big in this drill. Oklahoma’s Cody Ford is also a guy that I’m watching here not because he has something to prove, but instead to see is incredible athleticism at such a tremendous size (6-foot-4, 330 lbs.). He’s one of the most athletic linemen in the draft and will be a treat to watch in this drill. On the defensive side of the ball, I’m looking for a big performances from a host of guys, including Quinnen Williams (Alabama), Nick Bosa (Ohio State), Rashan Gary (Michigan), Ed Oliver (Houston), Dexter Lawrence (Clemson), Clelin Ferrell (Clemson), Josh Allen (Kentucky), Montez Sweat (Mississippi State), Jachai Polite (Florida), Brian Burns (Florida State), and DeAndre Walker (Georgia), amongst many others...

Linebacker and Defensive Back Position Drills

| Who to Watch For |

I group these two together because surprisingly, mostly what NFL talent evaluators are looking for out of linebackers at the combine are coverage skills. Mainly because in today’s league, being a three-down linebacker is so important, linebackers will most heavily be tested in their ability to backpedal and react to change of directions. Similarly to linebackers, defensive backs will be tested largely in the same way, but further away from the line of scrimmage and further outside the hash marks.

As I said earlier, expect the twitched up guys at both positions to perform stylishly in these types of drills, while the more hard nosed players have more to prove. I’m rooting hard for less athletic guys like Kris Boyd of Texas, JoeJuan Williams of Vanderbilt, and Te’Von Coney of Notre Dame, while I’m grabbing my popcorn for Devin White of LSU, Devin Bush of Michigan, Byron Murphy of Washington, Mack Wilson of Alabama, Nasir Adderley of Delaware, and Rock Ya-Sin of Temple.

To watch the NFL Combine, tune into the NFL Network (ABC on Saturday from 1-3pm EST), or livestream it from your phone, tablet, or computer… Coverage begins and extends through March 1 – March 4, at 9:00am EST.


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