Home » Cowboys’ 2013 NFL Combine Primer: A Closer Look At The Skills Tests

Cowboys’ 2013 NFL Combine Primer: A Closer Look At The Skills Tests


The beginnings of the world’s greatest job fair, the NFL Scouting Combine, began back in 1977, when each team decided that, instead of conducting individual workouts for prospective pro gridders, they should share information, which they did by gathering into three different scouting services, National, Blesto and Quadra (how they came up with these names is a story for a different post). This still somewhat clunky system was streamlined in 1984, when the workouts were moved to one site. As the draft has grown in popularity, so has the Combine. Now, it’s put under a 24-hour media microscope, and the slightest differences in players are debated endlessly.

What are we debating, exactly? On Monday, Dave offered a great intro to the Combine’s various dates and drills. As the NFL Network’s non-stop Combine coverage is due to start later this week, I thought I’d piggyback on our fearless leader’s fine work and examine each of these drills in greater detail so that our fine BTB readers might better understand what these drills ask players to do and what specific abilities they test. Today, I’ll take a look at the tests that (almost) every player will be asked to take; in subsequent editions, I’ll delve further into the various position-specific drills.

Here are the basic tests. Bonus points for naming the recording artists and songs from each title…

Such Great Heights: physical measurements

Each player in attendance will be measured for height, weight, arm length and hand size. Many college sports information departments tend to fudge player sizes and weights, and players’ bodies change over the course of a season, so it’s important to get accurate measurements of all players using the same measuring equipment. For linemen, arm length is crucial, as a shorter-armed guy is going to have a hard time getting his hands securely on a longer-armed opponent; a short-armed OT will probably have to kick in to play offensive guard. For positions like wide receiver and offensive line, hand size is important. Dez Bryant, for example, has huge hands, which allow him to handle passes that might give small-handed receiver fits. Also running backs and linemen’s body fat percentages are measured using a machine known as the “bod pod.” I’d assume Georgia defensive tackle Jonathan Jenkins requires an extra large pod…

Run Like Hell: the 40 yard dash

This is the simplest of drills: from a three-point stance, a player runs 40 yards as fast as he can. The 40-yard dash is one of the most popular drills at the combine–so much so that NFL Network analyst Rich Eisen runs one every year, in his suit and sneaks (needless to say, he’s slower that the fattest d-linemen). In a league that places such a high premium on speed, it’s the “40″ where perimeter/ space players make their money; every tenth of a second can greatly impact a player’s draft position and, by extension, his status in the league, how he’s perceived by the media, and his financial   

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