The NFL Combine – Finding the relevance

This past week I had the pleasure of speaking to about two dozen would be “draft prospects” about what to expect in the upcoming NFL Combine and Pro Days.  These young players were undergoing extensive physical and mental training in preparation for the evaluation grind that has become the norm prior to the NFL draft.  Most were represented by Ascent Sports (Jack & Tom Mills, Matt Striegel) or Domann and Pittman Sports Representation & Management (Craig Domann and Drew Pittman).

It’s WHO you know

Both of these agent firms are located in Colorado and these players have already made their first wise decision regarding a professional football career.  You’ll be hard pressed to find any two agent groups that’ll work harder for their clients, but with the degree of honest integrity and true appreciation for the athlete.  I welcomed the opportunity as a direct result of who was involved.

Media and Public Relations specialist Judianne Atencio of ProLink Sports and renowned strength and conditioning guru Loren Landow have been putting these future “rookies” through an intensive process of on and off the field preparation.

As a result, most won’t enter the ultimate “job interview” with a blind perspective.  These young players have an inkling of what they’re about to face and will be all the better for their efforts over the past two months.

Pulling it all together

The Football Educator has touched on the importance of the various physical attribute tests and which correlate most to a successful career in the NFL.  Each and every player will face a similar set of challenges, but the results will be interpreted according to their position on the field.

We analyzed all seven drills; 40 yard dash, 20 shuttle, 60 shuttle, broad jump, vertical jump, 3 cone and bench press.  Though each holds its own relative importance in measuring a player’s athletic ability, each is not as pressing as another might be according to predictivity by position.

So as college prospects across the country have painstakingly trained to produce their top scores in all seven, I hope their coaches and mentors have focused on those that not only will reflect positively on paper, but actually produce on game day.

What’s Important Now

In February of 2009, Joe Landers published a paper entitled “The Relevance of the Combine – Forecasting NFL Success With Physical Attribute Tests”.  Landers used data from almost 2,500 combine participants and performed comparative analysis studies to correlate test results with real-world NFL success.

As a result, he devised two new statistics (Exceeded Peer Average (EPA) & Attribute Success Correlation (ASC)) to determine which tests truly told a story to NFL coaches and scouts.  The results were both amazing and revealing, and yet rarely do you hear many sight Landers’ work when evaluating and analyzing Combine performance.

The Football Educator will give you the working tool to intelligently follow the Combine results as they unfold on TV and let you set your own draft boards not by biased emotion, but rather by statistical probability.  But remember, the NFL Combine is just one piece of the overall puzzle that makes up the future potential of a draft prospect.  Don’t be swayed by what the pundits tell you just happened.  Make a calculated observation and judgment for yourself.

Then even YOU can be an NFL “draft guru”!

The following table breaks down the seven attribute tests by position.  Each test displays the average of the test group and the percentage of “starters” (1st%) who exceeded this average.  Bold numbers represent the top attributes by position.  The Optimum EPA is the number of tests that the prospect should excel in and the total Opt EPA should include each of the bolded tests.  Then a remaining combination of tests should be excelled to reach the Opt EPA number.  This table is based on 2008 starters, so averages and percentages have adjusted since Landers ran his study, however the premise remains the same.

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