Scouting the NFL Combine – Broad Jump and Short Shuttle

With the NFL Combine all but a week away, The Football Educator has addressed some of the physical attribute tests and their overall relevance to forecasting future success in professional football.  We’ve note the significance of the 40 yard dash and touched upon the importance of the 3 Cone.

Focus on WHAT counts

If you recall Joe Landers’ study of the “Relevance of the Combine”, he focuses on those prospects that exceeded peer average in the administered drills.  Landers found that each position revealed different results of correlation between times or measurements and real-world NFL success.  He established that of the “starters” in the National Football League the positions of OC, CB, DE, LB, OT, RB, S, TE and WR all exceeded peer average in the 40 yard dash.   The next most significant drill was indeed the 3 cone with relevance to CB, DT, FB and OG.

The Short Shuttle

Afterwards, it becomes more of a combination of the drills and not specifics that indicate greater odds for success.  Of the remaining 5 tests the standing broad jump (CB & WR) and the 20 (short) shuttle (OC & CB) prove to be the most revealing.

The short shuttle is an excellent indicator of body balance, center of gravity, short area quickness and lateral change of direction.  The participant aligns centered between two points exactly 10 yards apart.  With his hand on the center point (3 point stance) the clock begins on his movement in either direction.  The player sprints 5 yards and much touch the line or point, reverse direction and sprint 10 yards and touch the line or point, then reverse direction and spring through the center or starting point.  In total the player has covered a distance of 20 yards and changed direction effectively 3 times (including the start).

The key to this drill is staying low at the break points and accelerating from the change of direction.  Wasted movement at the two outside points (usually by deceleration to touch the line/point) can cost valuable time.


Unless covered by a 0 technique Nose Tackle, most OC’s are asked to make difficult initial steps in a lateral direction, whether to assist OG’s or to work up to LB level.  First step quickness and body control are a “must have” for NFL Centers.

Likewise, the DC is asked to maintain a low center of gravity and to frequently change direction in a split second at the break.  Those that show little to no wasted movement (or false step) don’t allow the WR to separate from coverage.  This is a very difficult skill to develop and most of the great cover Corners have an innate ability to move laterally and break on a dime.

An astounding 89% (most for any position on any drill) of OC’s exceed peer average in the 20 shuttle and another 72% at DC.  Average for OC’s (4.69), average for DC’s (4.21).

The Broad Jump

The standing broad jump is a solid indicator of lower body strength and explosion.  The ability to burst from a low stance and explode forward is important for both wide receivers and defensive corners.  This lower body explosion is usually associated with straight line speed as well.

The participant stands flat footed, toes parallel on a line and in a single motion leaps forward as far as he can.  The measurement is taken from the toes to the back of the closest heel from the starting point.  Key is to use the momentum of the entire body, and to throw both legs and arms forward just before landing.


72% of the starting DC’s exceed peer average in the broad jump, while 65% of WR’s do as well.  Average for DC’s (10’2”), average for WR’s (10’1”).  Interesting the two positions that traditionally match up one on one would correlate with the highest degree of significance.

The positions where these drills are the least indicative of future success in the NFL?  Short Shuttle – FB at 36%, Broad Jump – QB at 23%.

Next, TFE looks at the last 3 events; 60 (long) shuttle, Vertical Jump, Bench Press

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