The NFL Combine got underway Wednesday in Indianapolis with the arrival of offensive linemen, tight ends and kickers, and will continue through next Tuesday when defensive backs finish up their ‘measurables’ and position-specific drills.
Over the course of the week, the six Tigers invited to the Combine will spend more time in medical exams, psychological testing and interviews with NFL teams than actual on-field workout time.
Any stage of the process can turn into a make-or-break moment.
Today they’ll undergo measurements, a medical exam and psychological testing and begin interviews, with more psychological testing and interviews scheduled for Friday.
McClain and Allen’s on-field workout will be held on Saturday, and will include the following elements common to all players: 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, the three-cone drill and the shuttle run.
They’ll then move on to position-specific drills, which in the case of tight ends and wide receivers includes a drill know as ‘The Gauntlet,’ in which players run horizontally across the field along a yardage marker, quickly catching and then dropping a series of five passes from quarterbacks spread across the field at equal distances.
Players will be judged on their hand-eye coordination, and the ability to extend their arms and make catches without bringing the ball to their bodies, while running a straight line for 50 yards.
Offensive linemen will work primarily on quarterback protection, with a basic kick-slide move from both two and three-point stances.
They will be judged primarily on their ability to pressure the quarterback, and will participate in drills designed to show their off-the-ball quickness, as well as their mastery of basic pass-rushing techniques.
Coty Sensabaugh will arrive on Saturday and begin working toward his on-field workout on Tuesday.
Among the primary drills used to evaluate defensive backs is the ‘speed-turn,’ in which DBs backpedal, turn, run, locate the football and then make a play on the ball. Pure speed is important, but the ability to change directions and play the ball in the air are considered essential skills.
Television coverage of the workouts begins on Saturday, Feb. 25, on the NFL Network.
Following is a breakdown of the ‘measurable’ drills, from the NFL Combine website:
The 40-yard dash is the marquee event at the combine. It's kind of like the 100-meters at the Olympics: It's all about speed, explosion and watching skilled athletes run great times. These athletes are timed at 10, 20 and 40-yard intervals. What the scouts are looking for is an explosion from a static start.
The bench press is a test of strength - 225 pounds, as many reps as the athlete can get. What the NFL scouts are also looking for is endurance. Anybody can do a max one time, but what the bench press tells the pro scouts is how often the athlete frequented his college weight room for the last 3-5 years.
The vertical jump is all about lower-body explosion and power. The athlete stands flat-footed and they measure his reach. It is important to accurately measure the reach, because the differential between the reach and the flag the athlete touches is his vertical jump measurement.
The broad jump is like being in gym class back in junior high school. Basically, it is testing an athlete's lower-body explosion and lower-body strength. The athlete starts out with a stance balanced and then he explodes out as far as he can. It tests explosion and balance, because he has to land without moving.
3 cone drill
The 3 cone drill tests an athlete's ability to change directions at a high speed. Three cones in an L-shape. He starts from the starting line, goes 5 yards to the first cone and back. Then, he turns, runs around the second cone, runs a weave around the third cone, which is the high point of the L, changes directions, comes back around that second cone and finishes.
The short shuttle is the first of the cone drills. It is known as the 5-10-5. What it tests is the athlete's lateral quickness and explosion in short areas. The athlete starts in the three-point stance, explodse out 5 yards to his right, touches the line, goes back 10 yards to his left, left hand touches the line, pivot, and he turns 5 more yards and finishes.