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.
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
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
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.
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."
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.