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THE 40-YARD DASH "No test can measure everything, but the 40 is a good barometer," says Titans coach Jeff Fisher. "The 40 does not lie." It's a vital stat in measuring wideouts or cornerbacks, for whom 4.40 seconds or less is the sign of a top prospect. Maryland tight end Vernon Davis ran a 4.38 at the combine in Indianapolis, one of the best times ever for his position and a big reason he's such a hot commodity.
THE 20-YARD SHUTTLE This drill, in which a player sprints five yards to his right, then 10 yards to his left and five yards back, tests lateral movement and change of direction. It's invaluable for measuring linebackers. Only one of the 39 LBs at the combine broke the superb time of 4.0 seconds: Ohio State's A.J. Hawk, who clocked a 3.97. That kind of side-to-side quickness helps make you a top 10 pick.
THE 225-POUND BENCH PRESS Top interior linemen should be able to do 25 repetitions. Defensive tackles Haloti Ngata of Oregon and Gabe Watson of Michigan enhanced their draft profiles by doing 37 and 36 reps, respectively, at the combine; Miami tackle Rashad Butler dropped to second-day draft status in part because of his 16-rep performance.
THE 10-YARD SPLIT While running the 40, players are clocked at 10- and 20-yard intervals to measure explosiveness. A 1.4-second time for the first 10 yards is great for corners and wideouts, 1.65 the benchmark for linemen. Davis is considered a better tight end prospect than UCLA's Marcedes Lewis in part because he ran a 1.52 to Lewis's 1.68.
THE SKILL SET North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams was not an every-down terror in college, but few players in draft history are his peer in strength and athleticism. At the combine the 6'7", 295-pound Williams did 35 reps on the bench press, which would shame most nosetackles; a vertical jump of 40 1/2 inches, only a half-inch less than Reggie Bush; and a 4.73 in the 40, just .15 of a second slower than Vince Young.
INTELLIGENCE TESTS Smart agents are schooling their clients in the 50-question Wonderlic test (sample question: Paper sells for 21 cents per pad. What will four pads cost?), so scores at the combine can be inflated. One Pac-10 running back got a 10 on the test before the 2005 season and a 30 this year at Indy. "You always look at the first test score," says one AFC personnel director. "It's always a better indicator."
INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEWS Teams spend about 13 minutes apiece with up to 60 prospects in Indianapolis, but if clubs are really interested, they'll get back together with players after the combine for longer sessions. One quarterback-needy team asked this year's three top passers to identify their favorite play on third-and-four. Vince Young answered with a base play from the Texas playbook. Jay Cutler offered a route with three options. Matt Leinart said, "Which one? I've got about eight of them." Then he described in detail the plays he liked. That told the team the USC quarterback was quick on his feet and likely could grasp multiple schemes on offense.