After their recent success and winning of the Super Bowl, a lot of attention has been payed to the Seattle Seahawks and the fact that they have found so much success in drafting guys in the later rounds of the draft. Has the team in the Pacific NW found a secret formula to finding talent others somehow seem to look past?
Actually, it appears that just might be the case.
The Seahawks GM John Schneider has talked about how he looks for explosive players rather than talented athletes. It’s his mentality that skills can be taught through good coaching, but raw explosiveness is a rare gift that is engrained in a handful of special football players. This may explain why he went and emptied out the bank account to acquire Percy Harvin.
But how does someone find that explosive instinct in players pre-draft?
Coach Pete Carroll is not shy at all when he speaks of how he uses the Nike SPARQ rating to determine who his team should target come draft day. SPARQ stands for Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, and Quickness. It was initially developed as a tool to help mold high school athletes into potential college prospects. SPARQ combines are held annually nation wide, and is just another way for young athletes to showcase their talents. Think of the SPARQ result as kind of an SAT for athletes.
The total scores are based on five points, four of which are actual events.
2) 40-yard dash time
3) 5-10-5 agility test…basically it’s a 20 yard shuttle drill
4) Kneeling Powerball toss
5) Vertical jump
Many SPARQ stars have gone on to be successful in the NFL, including Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith, Marshawn Lynch, Jermaine Kearse, and Michael Robinson, just to name a few. Malcolm Smith was a 7th round draft pick while Jermaine Kearse, who caught a game winning touchdown propelling Seattle into the Super Bowl, went un-drafted. So with results such as this, perhaps there is a lot to be said about the SPARQ program which seems to fly pretty low under the radar.
Seattle is not the only team using cutting edge training to scout fresh talent. Both the Eagles and the Falcons are looking deeper into SPARQ and will likely by on par with Seattle’s scouting methods soon.
The SPARQ program has been around since 2004, and is starting to intrigue more and more football savvy minds. We may see scores taken from these combines much more seriously than ever before.