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Spotlight On The Combine

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The new football season starts this Friday, at least it does in my world. The combine really represents the new year ahead. Hundreds of the best college kids and a lot of kids who are unknown to most take to the field with numbers pinned to the chests, lab rats lining up for experiments, to separate the strong from the weak, the fast from the slow. It's a very public job interview, where your success is analysed and your failure is broadcast to millions of homes. With millions of dollars on the line, it all seems worth it, even if intense public humiliation is on the cards. Sometimes it's self imposed, see one Andre Smith, or if you want to sleep tonight, avoid at all costs. Poked and prodded both mentally and physically, the cream of the crop may find themselves vertical leaping up draft boards, for other teams, the combine holds little water.

Let's take a look at some of the things that you can expect to see at the combine this coming week and how it all breaks down. Also which current Jet posted the best times in each category. Record keeping for these kinds of things are sketchy at best, so just going from what I could find regarding Jets players and what they timed at.

40 Yard Dash

Key Words: Explosion, Burst, Long Speed

Chris Johnsons 4.24 was the fastest electronically timed 40 time at the combine, other players have apparently run it quicker on their pro day, I think Ted Ginn Jr was rumoured to have run a 4.05, but as far as the combine goes, Johnson is still top dog. 40 yard dash means different things to different players. Which is really why it is timed in three stages. When watching the dash, you will notice three sets of stands stationed on either side of the track, one at the 10 yard mark, one at the 20 and one at the 40. These are laser stands, and when a player moves through the line it will record the time after 10,20 and finally 40 yards. When looking at the skill positions, all are important in their own right, the 10 to show explosion and burst off the line, the 20 to show speed in stride, and your 40 for your long speed. Where as with offensive and defensive trench guys, the only one that really matters is your 10 yard time, because that's the explosion you are looking for. Some even question whether the 10 yard time is a decent evaluator for lineman.

Quickest Jets: Lito Sheppard, 4.28, David Clowney, 4.32, Danny Woodhead, 4.35

More after the jump:

Bench Press

Key Words: Strength, Endurance, Commitment

225lb's as many times as you can. This really is the ultimate physical upper body test. The record I believe stands at 51 which is quite incredible. Achieved by Justin Ernest a defensive tackle out of Kentucky. I know what your probably thinking, who? I have no idea who Justin Ernest is, so that shows you why a lot of these drills are a good football fix, but ultimately, don't always translate well to a NFL career. The whole backdrop of the bench press is a little strange, you have inclined seating like a theatre, with GM's, head coaches, scouts, all watching a man work out. There will always be an official who deems whether the rep was a clean one or not, and a spotter making sure you don't crush yourself. Also used for motivation along with the other players. It shows endurance and commitment to a weight program, Brian Cushing stole the show last year.

Strongest Jets: Vernon Gholston 37, Wayne Hunter, 37, Kris Jenkins 33

Vertical Jump

Key Words: Lower Body Strength, Explosion, Power

This is how the vertical jump is measured. First you will see then measure the player flat footed with his arm outstretched over his head, then they will make him leap from a flat footed stance. He will touch the highest flag possible, and the differential between his height with his outstretched arm and the flag he touches, that there is the vertical leap measurement. The record for the vertical I think is still held by Gerald Sensabaugh of the Dallas Cowboys with 46 inches. In fact 2005 a fair few players had a spring in their step, the top three vertical jumps all came from that draft class, the other two being Derek Wake and Chris Mckenzie. Notoriously it's your defensive backs and your wide receivers that will be putting up the highest numbers. Lower body strength and explosion is the name of the game.

Vertical Jets: Kerry Rhodes, 42, Eric Smith, 40, Brad Smith 39 1/2

Broad Jump

Key Words: Lower Body Strength, Explosion, Power and Balance

This tests a similar group of muscles as the vertical, but you can never test explosion too much, it's vital at almost every single position. Here it's basic, you don't really need it explaining, but we will anyway. You stand with both feet at the line, you can't rock. You are allowed to squat down, and then burst out. When you land, you must stay balanced. If you take a step back, to the side or forward, then you run it again, and the scouts put a little circle around your name. The Broad Jump was actually considered an Olympic event until 1912 and the world record is 12 feet 2 inches. Anything over 10 feet is pretty damn good. I think Scott Starks who was drafted by the Jaguars, holds the combine record at 11 feet 5 inches, Darrius Heyward-Bey jumped 10 feet 9 inches last year.

Leaping Jets: Dustin Keller 10 feet 11 inches, Brad Smith 10 feet 8 inches, Eric Smith 10 feet 7 inches

3 Cone Drill

Key Words: Direction Change, Explosion, Balance, Acceleration

6.45 by Sedrick Curry is still the mark for this I believe, and it's a very short drill. You basically start from a three point stance, run 5 yards to the first cone directly in front of you, touch the ground, run back to the start, touch the ground, run around the outside of the 2nd cone towards the inside of the 3rd cone, run around that cone, around the 2nd one and then accelerate through the finish. Very simple, very basic, scouts want to see how you change direction, if you can accelerate quickly out of the cut and continue the acceleration.

Nifty Jets: Darrelle Revis 6.56, Braylon Edwards 6.83, Dustin Keller 6.88

Shuttle Run

Key Words: Lateral Movement, Quickness, Acceleration

You start with your hand in the ground, then explode to your right 5 yards, and get your hand on the ground. Pivot then head 10 yards back the way you came, again get your hand on the ground, turn and back 5 yards through the line to finish. This tests your cuts, your lateral movement, explosion, quickness and again acceleration. A lot of drills, but they test a lot of the same areas. Kevin Kasper a wide receiver out of Iowa ran a 3.73 back in 2001, which is just excellent, if you are hitting around 4.1 then you are doing something right.

5-10-5 Jets: Braylon Edwards 4.02, Darrelle Revis 4.08, Eric Smith 4.11

Wonderlic Test

Key Words: Problem Solving, Aptitude, Intelligence

Every athlete at the combine will undergo a Wonderlic test. This test is meant to analyse how a player can adapt, how he can handle the developmental stage of his career, how he learns and how fast, and general intelligence. each player has 12 minutes to answer 50 questions, these range from multiple choice, to fill in the blank word. To work out the IQ of a player, you simple take the Wonderlic test score out of 50, double it and then add 60. So 20 is average intelligence, you double that to 40, and then + 60 to make 100, an average IQ score. Anyone who scores under 20 is below average and a possible red flag could arise. The only player reported to have gotten 50/50 was Harvard Grad Pat McInally a punter who played 9 years with the Bengals. On the other end of the Spectrum, Vince Young reportedly scored 6, which is embarrassingly bad, as the questions are thought to be quite straight forward.

Personal Interview

Key Words: Comfort, Fit, Skill Set, Personality

Each NFL team gets 60, 15 minute interviews. Of the hundreds of players that attend they can interview any 60 of them for 15 minutes at a time. Here they will try and gage a little about the players personality, if he could comfortably come into your environment and produce. Get a feel for if he is the right player for you, what he brings to the table. Hear him speak and answer questions on football.We heard last year how the Jets fell in love with Sanchez's personality and passion for the game.

Other things will occur at the combine that you probably know about, where there is not much to explain:

-Position drills for the individual player

- Physical Measurements (Height, weight, reach etc)

- Physical, Injury evaluations

- Drug screening, players know it's coming and it's beyond idiotic to fail it, looking your way Harvin.

- Cybex Test (tests your joint movement along with other things)


That seems to wrap the combine up