Now that we’ve all had time to recoup from the holidays, reset ourselves both personally and professionally with New Year’s resolutions and watch what the state of Texas thought would never come again – a playoff win ( and not in Dallas!), let’s get back to business.
The college football bowl marathon is closing in on mile 26 and soon coaches, scouts, agents, media, players and wannabe’s on all fronts will descend upon Mobile, Alabama for the annual Senior Bowl. A few of college football’s finest will be selected to participate in what can only be described as the first “hands on” process of the NFL draft evaluation process; SEC vs BIG 12, FBS vs FCS, big school vs small school, power vs speed, north vs south.
Many of these players have been preparing for the past few weeks in hopes of receiving an invitation not only to the Senior Bowl, but to Indianapolis, IN for the NFL Combine. Their preparation to quickly mold themselves into a sellable package that might ultimately put the final touches on a potential NFL career hinges on a few key days in the damp and cold of both Indy and Alabama? One can only hope the NFL Combine Prep focus is correct in sunny southern California, or balmy Phoenix.
Where we going?
It’s been a couple weeks, so let’s go back to “Unleashing the Secrets of NFL Combine preparation” and get to work on the Offensive Line. Usually a General Manager or Player Personnel Director would go immediately to the “blindside” Tackle position, most commonly working from the left. But I’m going straight inside to Offensive Center. Gary Zimmerman was our anchor on the edge for two Super Bowl Championships, but the unsung hero in my mind was Tom Nalen. “Nails” was the foundation of the front five that finally brought Pat Bowlen and John Elway a set of rings.
No great championship team lacks a quality center. Using Joe Landers’ study, “Relevance of the Combine, Forecasting NFL Success With Physical Attribute Tests”, we can see where all those NFL Combine Preparation funds should be going at the start of the snap.
What’d we find?
Landers found over 2005-2008 that OC’s should Exceed Peer Average in 5 of the 6 drills administered (long shuttle is not tested for OL’s). Of those 5, eventual starters excelled in three specific attributes; short shuttle (89%), 40 yard dash (78%) and bench press (67%). What, no 3-cone? Surprisingly 3-Cone registered next to Vertical Jump and Broad Jump at only 44% relevance.
These findings also make Centers the #3 most predictable position on offense. So there really isn’t a whole lot of excuses for missing on your own “nails”. Look for Strength and Conditioning Coaches to put special emphasis on short, explosive movement (the start of the 40) and the ability to keep a balanced base in linear change of direction. The bench press has become not a measurement of one rep power but rather of rhythm and stamina. Though closely monitored by the scouts and coaches at INDY, there are tricks to the trade of maximizing bench reps as well.
So what now?
On average only two OC’s are selected before pick #81 of the draft; the first at or near round one, the second usually in round 3. After pick #81 your chances of finding a 56 game starter drop to under 20%, but oddly higher than any other position on the field.
So as you watch the NFL Network’s coverage of the NFL Combine, “nail” down your team’s future starting Center by looking at the EPA in those three categories, then hope like heck he can jump or master the 3-Cone.