As promised in “Unleashing the Secrets of NFL Combine preparation”, The Football Educator will begin to examine the requisite attributes of successful NFL Scouting Combine performances and their correlation to production in the National Football League. As I stated in my earlier post, I was involved with the Combine in a various capacities for sixteen years; as a group scout, as a member of the Selection Committee, and as the Director of College Scouting and later the General Manager of the Denver Broncos. Some of my positions are as a result of evaluating talent for a specific system in Denver, but much of what we’ll discuss has a generic flavor as well.
Joe Landers did an outstanding study on the “Relevance of the Combine – Forecasting NFL Success With Physical Attribute Tests” (Feb. 20, 2009). Landers took 2,430 prospects from 2005 to 2008, and in a nutshell looked at where the player fell on the roster; 1st string, 2nd string, rostered (3rd or 4th/Practice Squad), cut, or never signed.
Landers put emphasis on forecasting future success by two factors; Exceeded Peer Average (EPA) and Attribute Success Correlation (ASC). He found the collective of the performance over the 7 attribute tests as compared to a prospect’s peer group was an overall better indicator than any single event.
Why is this significant? Too many times the pundits and media will focus only on a player’s ability in a particular area (for example the 40 yard dash) as the sole indication of next level success. And though we all know that 40 time isn’t the only correlation to being a productive player in the NFL, we sometimes too easily get sucked into believing just that from what we hear and read.
Furthermore, we tend to put way too much credence into the NFL Scouting Combine as a whole. How many times have we heard the stories, or even seen on line, players shoot up the boards as a result of extraordinary combine performances? The NFL Scouting Combine is just a single part in the overall evaluation of the player, and should itself be implemented into the final evaluation in the proper manner and proper text.
Don’t get me wrong, the NFL Scouting Combine is the first opportunity for the next portion of the talent pool to compete at the professional level. There’s a lot on the line with that 40 yard dash, the vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone, short shuttle, long shuttle and bench press. We haven’t even begun to discuss the Wonderlic Test!
But Landers’ study puts a perspective on what prospects should be focusing on for Combine preparation. Certainly a prospect should record the best possible time or score, but also prepare and improve their own athletic performance for next level competition. So as The Football Educator goes forward with a comprehensive look at Combine preparation, keep the Landers study in the back of your mind as I will continually reference it.
What is the second most statistically relevant of the physical attribute tests when looking at starters in the NFL? The 3-cone drill. The 3-cone stands as a requisite for cornerbacks, defensive tackles, fullbacks and offensive guards. It’s also second (though not as strongly) for defensive ends, quarterbacks, running backs and safeties.
The 3-cone displays short area quickness, center of gravity, body balance, flexibility, foot speed and change of direction. It also requires focus and concentration maneuvering through the maze. All are important attributes for the above positions. So make sure to DVR the 3-cone drill on NFL Network if you really want to watch the cool stuff this February!