The Argument Continues on Football Combines

It is combine season and since the NFL combine is only 25 minutes from my home, I manage to go on the first day. It is usually offensive linemen day and the coaches have a 15 minute press conference to talk about their teams. Every year someone asks, "How important is the combine?" Every coach hems and haws, but honestly, most of the teams show up and all of the teams use the data.

There will always be the detractors who say the combine experience is unimportant and yet they are all in line wanting to see the numbers. There are high school coaches who feel the same way. Some emulate the famous Woody Hayes philosophy about the forward pass - more bad can happen than good. But after the event, everyone talks about someone's stock rising and others falling.

Scout.com just announced their dates of spring combines held throughout America. It is by invitation only and held in 12 cities across America. Like the NFL combine, it can be debated, what good is it? And, much like that debate, coaches will have their opinion, but will still want to see the numbers and dial in the scout results page as each city completes its testing. The truth is, combines and film give coaches a pretty good picture of an athlete's speed, strength and skill.

As a recruiting analyst for Scout, I have a heavy library of film for our 2010 athletes. But I would invite all our elite Indiana football players to be in Cincinnati or Chicago. When those observations and numbers are made, a clearer picture will be in view. I will not reveal the identity of the Big 10 head coach who told me, "Tim, when you see a "big time" D1 athlete, they stand out in multiple areas. You know one when you see one." Considering his success recently, I will not argue with him. But every college coach I have talked to in the past few years, from every level of competition, will admit combines and film study help the process. Most coaches hate attending combines and are relieved that the D1 level does not allow them.

What combines should a high school player attend? Great question. I will obviously be biased in part of my answer. If you are invited to attend a SCOUT combine, make every attempt to go. It must be reputable because it is a trusted and valuable source of information. My only cautionary piece of advice is beware of combines that cost over $50.00. Somebody is making money. Most all combines make their numbers available. Go to combine that college coaches read and subscribe to. Scout.com is one of those.

S to the 3rd Power = Speed, Strength and Skill

There is game speed and there is sprinting speed. I discover game speed watching film or watching a game. Sprint speed is timed traditionally in the 40 yard dash. I helped set up Indiana's first big combine with over 1000 athletes tested at the old RCA Dome. It was an organizational disaster. We thought, at most, 200 to 400 kids would show up, and the line stretched around the block into downtown Indianapolis. The only line larger was the college coaches watching the athletes run their 40 yard dash.

The 40 yard dash is overrated and archaic, but it's the first thing somebody wants to know when rating a player. "What's his 40 time?" If you say 4.4 or below, college coaches usually get giddy because their next line is, "electronic or handheld?" If I say, "electronic," they usually say, "Do you have any film!" The cone speed drills primarily tell coaches if you can change directions with speed and agility.

Strength is considered in 3 types of combine exercises. The standing broad jump, the vertical leap, and the bench press reps test. Football is about explosive strength and the bench press is considered pretty cosmetic, but you definitely can tell those who spend time in the weight room and those who don't. The number of bench press reps can be transposed into a maximum lift using a chart. It is fairly accurate in predicting a maximum lift.

Skill can be gained by watching how an athlete performs all the combine tests. At the NFL combine actual drills simulate a player's action by catching the ball and throwing the ball. Linemen do the standard kick-slide drill and defensive linemen hit and spin around dummy bags - all under the watchful eye of coaches and scouts. But nothing beats watching a game film against competition. That is why we invite the players to come to a Scout combine. We have watched the highlight tapes and game films and the combine numbers simply back up what we have seen on film.

The invitations will be going out to Indiana high school athletes from Scout.com. On Sunday May 3rd the Scout Cincinnati combine will be held at Princeton High School. I will be sending out invitations and would highly suggest that you RSVP early. I also will be sending out invitations for the Chicago Scout Combine held Saturday May 9th in Hanson Stadium. I will be at Cincinnati and am unsure about Chicago at this time. But, I will have access to all the information from these combines. There will be underclassmen invitees as well.


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