NFL Combine’s forgotten 3 – Vertical Jump, Bench, 60 Shuttle

The final physical attribute tests to be administered at the NFL Combine next week are the 60 (long) shuttle, vertical jump and bench press.  These three round out Pro Football’s version of the septathlon, along with the 40 yard dash, 20 (short) shuttle, broad jump and 3 Cone.  The seven drills measure an athlete’s speed, quickness and explosion to compare and contrast to past prospects.

Bigger and bigger and bigger

The “hype and circumstance” surrounding the Combine has brought a tremendous amount of attention upon the results of these tests, not only within the walls of NFL facilities but outside of the working world of pro football.  The League’s decision makers must stay focused on their mission and the various pieces to the puzzle that make up a draft evaluation.  All data is significant, but when misread or misused for the benefit of one side of a debate, it can lead to major mistakes.

What really matters

That’s why The Football Educator feels Joe Landers’ study on “The Relevance of the Combine” is such a significant tool.  Landers has broken down the seven events by position and shown which correlate with success on the field.

Certain aspects of Combine testing relate more to one position than another.  The 40 yard dash is the most telling of all seven drills with regards to projecting future success.  OC, CB, DE, LB, OT, RB, S, TE and WR have the 40 yard dash as a prerequisite of starting potential.  The highest degree of predictivity comes with exceeding peer average (EPA) in this event for the nine mentioned positions.

Next, 3 Cone with four positions; CB, DT, FB, OG.  Afterwards it’s a combination of any drills adding up to the optimum number of EPA’s by position.


The vertical jump is an excellent measurement of lower body explosion.  With both feet placed firmly on the ground, the participant literally thrusts himself upward and reaches at a VERTEX to attain his highest measurement.  Deducting this measurement from his standing reach gives scouts the player’s vertical jump.  Flat footed explosion is usually seen most in basketball but is also critical to the WR position. Equally significant as the 40 yard dash, the VJ correlates with 83% of starters exceeding peer average.  Only the 20 shuttle for OC’s is more predictive.

Pump it up

The Bench Press is probably the second most “glamorous” drill of the group.  Outside of the 40, no other garners more scrutiny than the Bench.  Participants are required to lift off and with solid form push 225 pounds to the point of exhaustion.  The bar must come down and touch the chest, then be pressed to full arm extension.  A spotter can disallow any lifts deemed not of standard form.

There’s an art to the Bench Press that has been discovered and taught throughout Combine Prep Camps.  Originally designed to equate to a total bench, the test has now become a combination of strength and stamina.  Rhythmic repetition is a must to attain a maximum number of reps.

The results are surprising, with OC having the only significant correlation at 67%.  Next closest is TE at 53%, not defensive linemen, not offensive linemen.  Therefore a player at any of the other positions can benefit greatly from the development of a strong/explosive upper body.

The long and winding road

Finally, the 60 shuttle.  There’s been some debate over the years of its usefulness and yet not enough dissent to eliminate it from the evaluation.  Similar to the 20 shuttle, the 60 shuttle requires a player sprint and laterally change direction from a starting point, ascending to 5, 10 and 15 yards.  Down and back doubles the distance, adding up to the 60 yards covered.

OC, OG, OT and DT aren’t required to perform the 60 Shuttle.  The highest correlation is WR at 26%, not nearly enough to prove significant.  Football is not a sport given to long distance stamina/change of direction, but the drill can be revealing at times.

Final thoughts on how this all adds up in TFE’s next post.

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