NFL Scouting Combine 101: What You Need to Know

Posted Feb 23, 2016

A breakdown of everything you need to know about the NFL Scouting Combine

Since 1982, the NFL Scouting Combine has been a huge part of the draft evaluation process, assessing young NFL hopefuls’ physical and mental performance with the purpose to, optimistically, influence their “draft stock.”

Consider it the SAT for the NFL, a preparatory standardized test assessing an athlete’s readiness for the next level.

Here is what you need to know about the Scouting Combine this week:


Who: Over 300 invited NFL prospects as well as NFL coaches, executives, scouts and medical staffs

What: 2016 NFL Scouting Combine

When: Feb. 23-29 (workout schedule below)

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.

Why: Each February, hundreds of collegiate-level NFL hopefuls are invited to the four-day mental and physical evaluation process, during which all 32 teams can assess and interview potential candidates firsthand prior to the upcoming NFL Draft. It’s also known as the biggest job interview of their lives.

Watch: Live coverage begins at 8 a.m. CST each of the four days on NFL Network and will be streamed on*

*Tune in live as Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey is scheduled to speak Thursday, February 25 at 1:15 EST.


Friday, Feb. 26: Running backs, offensive linemen, special teams

Saturday, Feb. 27: Quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends

Sunday: Feb. 28: Defensive linemen, linebackers

Monday, Feb. 29: Defensive backs


40-yard dash
The 40-yard dash is the “marquee event” at the Combine. The 40-yard dash is a display of an athlete’s speed. Scouts search for an explosion of speed from a static start. This is similar to measuring a player’s speed from scrimmage. One of the most watched events at the Combine.

Bench press
The ultimate test of power and endurance. The bench press tests a prospect’s strength. The player lifts 225 pounds as many times as possible. Players are tested on endurance by the number of times they can lift the weights in one set.

Vertical jump
The vertical jump assesses a player’s reach. This workout measures how high a player can jump off the ground from a standstill, measuring lower-body explosion and power.

Broad jump
The broad jump is about explosion and balance. Measuring a player’s reach from a standstill jump to a stationary landing translates to his burst and balance while on the football field.

3-cone drill
The 3-cone drill tests an athlete's ability to change directions while running in motion at high speeds to gauge his agility on the field. This drill tests full football running functions: straight line and linear power, multi-directional speed and braking.

Shuttle run
The shorter of the shuttles, the 20-yard shuttle, is the first of the cone drills. It is known as the 5-10-5. Testing an athlete's lateral quickness and explosion in short areas. The longer of the two shuttles, the 60-yard shuttle tests anaerobic speed endurance while running in-game-like routes.

Position-specific Drills
Each prospect goes through position specific football drills intensely followed by NFL coaches and scouts, guiding them through the drills. These drills are usually overlooked since the workout numbers are primarily measured.

NFL team Interviews
Each of the 32 teams are allowed 60 interviews with potential draft candidates in 15-minute intervals. Interviews are held at the hotel where the prospects stay and questions can vary from a prospect’s knowledge of the game to his personality to his ability to react in different and awkward situations.

The Wonderlic Test
The Wonderlic test is a cognitive ability test, similar to an I.Q. test. This test is taken at the Combine and contains 50 questions to be answered within 12 minutes. The test is designed so most prospects do not finish in time. Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys began using the Wonderlic test to forecast player performance, and its use was continued throughout the NFL Combine. For more information on the Wonderlic Test, go to

Each prospect is measured with their height, weight, arm length and hand length. For running backs and linemen, their body fat percentage is measured.

Injury Evaluation
Each prospect goes through X-rays and physicals to determine his current injuries and his injury history. Those prospects coming into the Combine with injuries get serious looks. Very few prospects come out of the Combine with injuries they did not know they already had. In addition to an injury evaluation, each prospect takes a urine test to check for banned substances not allowed in the NFL.

The Cybex Test
The Cybex Test tests the flexibility and joint movement of the prospects. Each prospect is hooked to a machine, which determines their results. Injured and previously injured prospects results get serious looks from coaches.

Here’s a look at the top prospects by position of 2016, according to NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock

1. Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
2. Jared Goff, California
3. Paxton Lynch, Memphis
4. Connor Cook, Michigan State
5. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

Running back
1. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
2. Derrick Henry, Alabama
3. Devontae Booker, Utah
4. Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech
5. Jordan Howard, Indiana

Wide receiver
1. Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
2. Corey Coleman, Baylor
3. Michael Thomas, Ohio State
4. Josh Doctson, TCU
5. Will Fuller, Notre Dame

Tight end
1. Hunter Henry, Arkansas
2. Austin Hooper, Stanford
3. Jerrell Adams, South Carolina
4. Nick Vannett, Ohio State
5. Henry Krieger Coble, Iowa

Offensive tackle
1. Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
2. Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
3. Jack Conklin, Michigan State
4. Taylor Decker, Ohio State
5. Willie Beavers, Western Michigan

1. Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
2. Vadal Alexander, LSU
3. Joshua Garnett, Stanford
4. Christian Westerman, Arizona State
5. Graham Glasgow, Michigan

1. Ryan Kelly, Alabama
2. Nick Martin, Notre Dame
3. Max Tuerk, USC
4. Evan Boehm, Missouri
5. Jack Allen, Michigan State

Interior defensive line
1. DeForest Buckner, Oregon
2. Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
3. Sheldon Rankins, Louisville
4. Jarran Reed, Alabama
5. A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama

Edge rusher
1. Joey Bosa, Ohio State
2. Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky
3. Shaq Lawson, Clemson
4. Leonard Floyd, Georgia
5. Kevin Dodd, Clemson

1. Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
2. Myles Jack, UCLA
3. Reggie Ragland, Alabama
4. Darron Lee, Ohio State
5. Deion Jones, LSU

1. Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
2. Vernon Hargreaves, Florida
3. Mackensie Alexander, Clemson
4. Eli Apple, Ohio State
5. Cyrus Jones, Alabama

1. Karl Joseph, West Virginia
2. Vonn Bell, Ohio State
3. Darien Thompson, Boise State
4. Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah
5. Jeremy Cash, Duke

A complete list of combine invites

For live updates from Indianapolis, follow BJ Kissel at @ChiefsReporter

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