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How The NFL Combine Works: The Drills

A detailed look at what drills go down at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine takes place this week in Indianapolis, Ind., an event that will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium - the home of the Colts - from Feb. 23-29. 

Coaches, executives, scouts, doctors, and personnel staff from each of the League's 32 teams will be on site evaluating hundreds of the nation's top football talent in advance of the 2016 NFL Draft, which runs April 28-30. 

On-field combine workouts begin Friday, starting with the running backs, offensive linemen, and special teamers. Workouts continue Saturday with the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends, Sunday with the defensive linemen and linebackers, and wrap up Monday with the defensive backs.

Below, take a detailed look at the specific workouts and drills NFL prospects will take part in. All descriptions courtesy of

40-Yard Dash

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.

Bench Press

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.

Vertical Jump

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.

Broad Jump

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.

Shuttle Run

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, explodes 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.


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