The National Football League has invited 333 players to participate in this year’s combine in Indianapolis. Last year 328 players were invited to attend and a majority of those players were drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft. Click here for the complete list of 2013 invitees.
Whether it is at a Pro Day or the NFL Combine, players eligible for the draft will be tested on size, strength, speed and knowledge and graded on their performances.
The often scrutinized Wonderlic test is just one of the many examinations that college athletes are asked to complete during the arduous, yet necessary, draft process.
The Wonderlic score is based on a 12-minute, 50 question test (just for fun, ESPN.com has an abbreviated version of the Wonderlic test if you want to see how you stack up against the pros).
For the athletes, the April draft represents the means to an end, a culmination of one long and drawn out job interview after 20-plus years of work and determination.
The players will be tested in seven different categories at the combine which are listed below:
*the names listed next to each category are the best performances from the 2012 combine
-40-yard dash: CB Josh Robinson, University of Central Florida, 4.33 (Round: 3 / Pick: 66 – MIN)
-Vertical Jump: WR Kashiif Moore, Connecticut, 43 1/2 inches (UFA – CIN)
-Bench Press: DT Dontari Poe, Memphis, 44 reps (Round: 1 / Pick: 11 – KC)
-Broad Jump: CB Josh Robinson, Central Florida, 133 inches; (see above)
-Three-cone drill: LB Brandon Marshall, Nevada, 4.09 seconds (Round: 5 / Pick: 142 – JAC)
-20-yard shuttle: CB Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt, 3.9 seconds (Round: 2 / Pick: 62 – GB)
-60-yard shuttle: CB Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma, 10.75 seconds (Round: 3 / Pick: 80 – ARI)
The following are notable players who saw their stocks rise last year following their combine workouts.
DE/OLB Bruce Irvin (West Virginia): Coming into the pre-daft workouts, Irvin was rated as one of, if not, the top linebacker/defensive ends of the 2012 draft class. In some circles, however, he still remained a second round grade. The youngster out of West Virginia turned in a 4.5 40-yard dash and was selected in the first round, 15th overall by Seattle Seahawks.
LB Mychal Kendricks (California): Prior to the combine, Kendricks was a projected mid-round selection but after an impressive showing at the combine was taken in the second round (46th Overall) by the Philadelphia Eagles.
QB Kirk Cousins (Michigan State): ESPNs Draft guru Mel Kiper projected Cousins as a fifth round pick heading into the draft despite a record-setting four-year career at Michigan State. But the Michigan State quarterback showed well in Indianapolis and the Redskins drafted him early in the fourth round (102 overall).
QB Russell Wilson (Wisconsin): Due to his lack of size, not many scouts thought Wilson would be able to compete at the next level, but there are no tests that measure heart and desire. He turned in the second fastest quarterback time in the 40-yard dash, passing the finish line in a blazing 4.55 seconds (Robert Griffin III, 4.41). The Seahawks used the 74th pick in the third round to draft Wilson.
By no means does the combine make or break a player’s career, but it is a solid starting point for NFL scouts to judge a player’s athletic ability.
One could argue that the sit-down interviews at the combine are just as important as the speed and agility tests.
These interviews are the first time that scouts, coaches, and General Managers really have an opportunity to get to know the players underneath the helmet and to assess a player’s character to determine whether or not that player will be a good ‘locker room’ guy. The interview is also the player’s last real opportunity to make an impression and demonstrate that they are eager to learn and able to adapt to the faster NFL game.
So as the combine approaches, keep an eye out for impact players who not only impress during the workouts, but also for those players who indicate that they are capable of withstanding the daily rigors of the National Football League.
Stay tuned later in the week as we’ll continue our ‘Countdown to Combine’ and examine some of the prospects heading into April’s NFL Draft.
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