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Inside the NFL Combine: Drills

Feb 23, 2012 -- 7:13am

By Matt Fontana

Usually the biggest news to come out of the NFL combine surrounds the different drills the player’s participate in. While it may seem like just running or working out, these drills are very specialized tools for NFL scouts to use. Even a split second can cost a prospect when it comes to the NFL draft. As fans, it’s hard to understand the different drills and their meaning, until now. We explain the common seven drills at the NFL combine:

40 Yard Dash

The 40 yard dash could be one of the most well known drills in all of football and the simplest. A player begins on the goaline and sprints to the 40 yard line, that’s it. The purpose of the drill is to see straight line speed, acceleration and running form. A good time will certainly help but a bad time is detrimental to a player’s draft stock.

-Combine record: 4.24 seconds- Chris Johnson (RB, East Carolina, 2008) and Rondel Melendez (WR, 1999)

Bench Press

Football players are supposed to be strong, right? That’s not a trick question, they are supposed to be. The bench press at the NFL combine test’s a player’s upper body strength. Players are given one opportunity to bench press 225 pounds as many times as they can.

-Combine Record: 51 reps- Justin Ernast (DT, 1999)

5-10-5 Drill and 60 yard shuttle

Also known as the 20 shuttle drill or pro agility drill, tests a players agility. The following diagram explains the drill:




A player begins on the five yard line, sprints to the ten yard line, back to the goaline and finishes through the five yard line. Coaches look to see a player stay low and keep their balance while maintaining explosion and speed. The 60 yard shuttle is the exact same drill as the 5-10-5 drill, except there are ten yards to each side of the player instead of just 5.

-Combine Record (20): 3.81 seconds- Jason Allen (DB, 2006)

-Combine Record (60): 10.75 secs.- Buster Skrine (DB, 2011)

3 Cone Drill

Also known as the “L Drill” for its shape. This drill tests how a player can shift their weight and change direction rapidly. The following diagram explains the drill:





A player must remain low and use their explosion coming out of each cone.

Combine record: 6.44 secs- Buster Skrine (DB, 2011)

Broad Jump and Vertical Jump

The broad jump drill can be summed up in one word, POWER. A player begins at the goaline and jumps forward, that’s it. This drill tests the lower body strength and power of a player, very useful to NFL scouts. Just like the broad jump, the vertical jump tests a players power and explosion. A player begins on both feet and jumps as high as they can. No steps can be taken before the jump. A very useful tool for WR and DB in regards to catching footballs.

-Combine Record: 11’ 3” (Broad) and 45 inches (Vertical) – Donald Washington (DB, 2009)


The Wonderlic test has been used for years as a useful test for employers to give to potential employee’s to test their aptitude for learning and problem solving. It then made its way into the NFL combine. A perfect score is 50.

-Combine record: 50- Pat McInally (WR/P, 1975)

Here’s your shot to take the wonderlic - Click here.

That’s the NFL combine drill’s in a nut shell. Each position group will have additional drills to these, based on their positions. These will be broken down each day the position group will test. Up next- Offensive Lineman, Tight Ends and Special teams preview.

Follow Matt Fontana on Twitter @MattFontana83


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