NFL Combine: What to Watch on Workout Day One


Feb 18, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan speaks to the media during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is the scene. The Jets staff, along with the rest of the league, is in place. The workouts begin today at the NFL Combine. College football’s finest have descended upon Lucas Oil Stadium for the combine, the annual even where talents are featured, heights and weights are displayed, and intelligence is tested, all to find the NFL’s next brightest stars.

But, what do you look for? A lot of events go on at the NFL Combine. There are many drills, some are very relevant to the player’s position, some are not. How do you sort through it? We will talk about today’s workouts, and what to watch.

Among the group featured, we know the Jets are looking for players along the offensive line. They will take the field today. So, which of the drills featured at today’s combine events are important to watch? Is there a correlation between combine performance and playing in the NFL?

There is. Let’s take a look, specifically, related to offensive linemen.

(Note: Since the Jets aren’t really in the market for a center, we will focus on guard and tackle.)

Next: Speed Drills

Feb 22, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Auburn Tigers offensive lineman Greg Robinson runs the 40 yard dash during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

SPEED DRILLS: Believe it or not, the speed drills are important, even for an offensive lineman. Specifically, they are important for offensive tackles, more so than for guards.

For purposes of this article, we are looking at stats featured by National Football Post. The study looks at combine results over the past ten years.

Even the forty yard dash has been important when it comes to offensive tackles. Over the last ten NFL Combines, 60.7% of the top tackles in the 40 yard dash have started at least one season in the NFL. 63.2% of the tackles that top the charts in the 20 yard shuttle become starters as well. Why? Tackles often have to get on the outside quickly to make blocks at the second level. They don’t make long sprints very often, using their speed in short spurts, which accounts for the increase in the 20 yard shuttle number.

Being able to change directions at the second level is important for a tackle, which is why 52% of the top performers in the three cone drill start.

They may not be fast, but watch the big guys run.

It’s not as valuable for the guards, only 38% of the Combine guards that top the 40 yard dash become starters. Only 48% that top the 20 yard shuttle become starters. Tackles are counted on to be faster.

Next: Bench Press

BENCH PRESS: It should be no surprise that the top performers in the Bench Press at the combine go on to be starters, whether it is the position of guard or tackle.

50% of the Combine performers at tackle become starters, and 49.1% of the guards do as well. This one is obvious, to block a large man coming towards you, you need to be strong.

So, when you tune into the Combine later on today, watch the big guys lift.

Next: Explosion Drills

Feb 23, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Texas A&M Aggies offensive lineman Luke Joeckel does the broad jump during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

EXPLOSION DRILLS: In the NFL, your offensive linemen need to explode off the line of scrimmage. When defensive linemen are exploding at you to get past you, you need to get off the line and explode into your opponent, keeping your skilled position players upright.

Don’t skip these drills when you tune into the combine today. 60.7% of the top performers in the broad jump start at offensive tackle, and 60% of the vertical jump leaders start at tackle as well. Offensive tackles need to be skilled, and the combine numbers bear that out.

It’s not as important for guards, as only 41.2% of the top performers in the broad jump, and 45.1% of the leaders in the vertical jump start at guard. So if you watch these combine drills, the top performers are your future tackles, and the middle of the road performers potentially are your guards.

Obviously, there are a lot more elements that play into drafting a player, even at the combine itself. There are interviews, weigh-ins, and tests.

But, here is a simple guy to help you evaluate the talent you are watching, and look at who might be a good fit for our New York Jets.

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