Yardsticks, Wonderlics

May 01, 2006
May 01, 2006

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May 1, 2006

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Yardsticks, Wonderlics

At the combine, on pro days and in individual workouts, scouts employ a mosaic of measures to size up potential picks physically and mentally

THE 40-YARD DASH"No test can measure everything, but the 40 is a good barometer," saysTitans coach Jeff Fisher. "The 40 does not lie." It's a vital stat inmeasuring wideouts or cornerbacks, for whom 4.40 seconds or less is the sign ofa top prospect. Maryland tight end Vernon Davis ran a 4.38 at the combine inIndianapolis, one of the best times ever for his position and a big reason he'ssuch a hot commodity.

This is an article from the May 1, 2006 issue

THE 20-YARDSHUTTLE This drill, in which a player sprints five yards to his right, then 10yards to his left and five yards back, tests lateral movement and change ofdirection. It's invaluable for measuring linebackers. Only one of the 39 LBs atthe combine broke the superb time of 4.0 seconds: Ohio State's A.J. Hawk, whoclocked a 3.97. That kind of side-to-side quickness helps make you a top 10pick.

THE 225-POUNDBENCH PRESS Top interior linemen should be able to do 25 repetitions. Defensivetackles Haloti Ngata of Oregon and Gabe Watson of Michigan enhanced their draftprofiles by doing 37 and 36 reps, respectively, at the combine; Miami tackleRashad Butler dropped to second-day draft status in part because of his 16-repperformance.

THE 10-YARD SPLITWhile running the 40, players are clocked at 10- and 20-yard intervals tomeasure explosiveness. A 1.4-second time for the first 10 yards is great forcorners and wideouts, 1.65 the benchmark for linemen. Davis is considered abetter tight end prospect than UCLA's Marcedes Lewis in part because he ran a1.52 to Lewis's 1.68.

THE SKILL SETNorth Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams was not an every-down terrorin college, but few players in draft history are his peer in strength andathleticism. At the combine the 6'7", 295-pound Williams did 35 reps on thebench press, which would shame most nosetackles; a vertical jump of 40 1/2inches, only a half-inch less than Reggie Bush; and a 4.73 in the 40, just .15of a second slower than Vince Young.

INTELLIGENCETESTS Smart agents are schooling their clients in the 50-question Wonderlictest (sample question: Paper sells for 21 cents per pad. What will four padscost?), so scores at the combine can be inflated. One Pac-10 running back got a10 on the test before the 2005 season and a 30 this year at Indy. "Youalways look at the first test score," says one AFC personnel director."It's always a better indicator."

INDIVIDUALINTERVIEWS Teams spend about 13 minutes apiece with up to 60 prospects inIndianapolis, but if clubs are really interested, they'll get back togetherwith players after the combine for longer sessions. One quarterback-needy teamasked this year's three top passers to identify their favorite play onthird-and-four. Vince Young answered with a base play from the Texas playbook.Jay Cutler offered a route with three options. Matt Leinart said, "Whichone? I've got about eight of them." Then he described in detail the playshe liked. That told the team the USC quarterback was quick on his feet andlikely could grasp multiple schemes on offense.

Bush soared through the gantlet of tests in front of scouts inApril.