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Monday, March 9, 2009

Top College Football Players Show Their Talent - The Combine

While most sports fanatics are gearing up for March Madness, others are working out for the meat market known as The Scouting Combine. Every year top college players are invited to get the chance of a lifetime, show their skills to NFL coaches, general managers, and scouts.
Some question the usefulness of the Combine results, and whether or not it should continue further. In fact this issue comes up every year, and every year it gets the same response. Coaches use the combine to assist in the all important draft day decisions. Interviews are conducted, and physicals performed to lay the groundwork for each player's worth.
This year's physical proved to be a career ender for Brian Mandeville, a tight end from
Northeastern. Doctor's discovered a non-life threatening problem with his heart valve and recommended that Mandeville no longer continue to play.

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This was certainly a devastating blow for a young man that has spent most of his life playing, without complications. The Combine isn't just physicals and interviews though. There are several workout, referred to as measurable drills, that each and every player must go through, regardless of their position. The first drill is the 40-yard dash, which according to an NFL.com poll is a fan favorite. Each player begins in a 3 point stance and must explode from the start and run as quickly as possible through three separate timed intervals at 10, 20, and 40 yards. Each position has a specific speed that is considered best, just consider Offensive Lineman running next to a slimmer safety or running back. They certainly won't reach the 40-yard line at the same time.
The next drill, and one that a lot of the lineman strive to be best at, is the bench press. The player must bench press 225 pounds as many times as they can. It is expected that a player with more endurance will be capable of competing more reps than one that avoided the weight room, in favor of only running drills. Another workout is the vertical jump, in which the player must jump from a flat footed position with the goal of hitting the highest flag possible on the pole in front of them.
Next is the broad jump, a drill quite similar to the long jump in track and field. However, with the broad jump, the athlete is starting from a stable position and doesn't have the advantage of gaining speed before they leap. Arguably, this jump is further complicated by the fact that players are not supposed to move after they land, unlike long jumpers who don't always land gracefully.
Finally, each athlete is expected to complete a 3 cone drill and a shuttle run. Both drills are intended to test their ability to change directions and move laterally at high speed, something they will be expected to do quite often during their NFL career. However, these players aren't done after all of these demanding workout drills. They are also required to complete drills that are specific to the position they play. Clearly The Combine offers if nothing else an incredible workout opportunity for each player invited. Though many of them are hoping that their performance will help land them a professional career, playing the sport they love so much.