The Thumper Index - What the combine told us about the players


There is a lot of attention paid to the combine by the GM’s around the league. I am not sure as fans we totally understand what the combine told us. I will attempt to clarify some of that in this two part series.

First, I have to credit Pat Kirwan of NFL.com for teaching me this. He posted an article back in March 2005 that summarizes a lot of the combine results. He calls it the explosiveness factor. I call it the thumper index. We are trying to find out which college players are capable of bringing the wood to the field. Which players have that ability to deliver the impact blow. Here is the premise…

A player goes through three key measurements other than speed; the vertical jump, the broad jump and the number of reps benching 225 pounds. The vertical jump and broad jump measure the power in the legs. Who has the ability to launch themselves. Then, who has the physical strength in the bench press to deliver the final punch. A player with strong launching legs and a top end upper body should be able to deliver the power blow.

If you add the vertical leap, the broad jump and the reps together, you have the explosiveness of the player, or as I call it, the “thumper” index.  Got it? Leg strength plus upper body is the delivery of the power. Now this does not measure a football player, just their physical ability.  When you add these three measures together, you find only the elite athletes that can sum to greater than 70. For example, a guy that can rep 20 time 225 lbs plus a 40 inch vertical and a 10 yard broad jump gives you the magic number of 70.  That represents a player with legs and upper body.

Now factor in the 40 yard dash and the 20 yard cone drill and you see the speed and quickness.  For this exercise, we will only measure the “thump” delivered. OK? Everyone on board? Let’s look at the combine results.

The ultimate “thumper” in this draft belongs to Sean Weatherspoon, linebacker from Missouri. Sean can jump 40 inches, cover 10 yards in the broad jump and bench 225 lbs 34 times. His “thumper” number is 84, tops in the combine. Add in his 4.3 20 yard cone drill and 4.6 40 yard time and Sean Weatherspoon has a lot of physical gifts to bring to the football field on Sunday.
Nebraska v Missouri

(Sean Weatherspoon. Source: Yardbarker)

If the Jaguars traded down and grabbed Sean Weatherspoon, you would know we got the potential hardest hitter in the draft.  As an outside linebacker, he can cover ground quickly and deliver a punishing blow. Is he a good football player? I don’t know. I do know this, he has the body to be a good player for all 60 minutes of a football game.

Let’s look at Terrence Cody, “Mount Cody” as he is known in Alabama. Terrence Cody did 19 reps at 225, can leap 20 inches and broad jump 7 feet. Terrence Cody has a thumper index of 49. Terrence Cody is a big mountain of lard without any legs or upper body strength. Wonder why no one is talking about “Mount Cody” as a top ten choice? This will tell you.

I will bet Terrence Cody get tired easily. I don’t know that, but his numbers tell you he doesn’t have the body to play hard all 60 minutes. 

LSU v Alabama
(Terrence Cody Source: Yardbarker)

Eric Berry is a top ten choice at Safety. Eric can jump 43 inches, broad jump 10 feet and put up 19 reps at 225. Eric has a thumper index of 72. A very decent number. Add in his 4.2 20 yard cone drill and his 4.4 40 time and you have a very good physical specimen at Safety. Eric is worthy of a top ten selection. Tennessee v Florida

(Eric Berry Source: Yardbarker)

I will end today with one more player and then tomorrow I will fill you in on some other candidates. Let’s look at Taylor Mays, a Safety out of USC. Taylor Mays can jump 41 inches, broad jump 10 feet and put up 24 reps at 225. Taylor Mays has a thumper index of 75. Add in his 4.4 40 yard dash and you can see a guy who can cover ground quickly and has the legs and upper body to deliver a punch. Taylor Mays has the body to be an impact player at Safety.

Will he be a good one? I don’t know.

He has all the physical gifts to get the job done. USC v Notre Dame

(Taylor Mays. Source: Yardbarker) 

Part two tomorrow. We will cover some big names and some sleepers. For now, let me just say, the combine is a very revealing event. As fans, we need to understand what it told us. As always, In Gene we trust!

 - Terry O’Brien

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  • jonathan

    Cody will never play past 2nd down in the NFL unless it’s 3rd/4th and one and everyone in the building knows it’s a run up the middle.

    As for Taylor Mays, he has all of the physical tools. However, he simply isn’t a good football player. He takes too many bad angles and half assed tackles. When he connects on hits, he makes people pay and creates highlights. However, for every good highlight, he’ll miss a tackle and give up 15 more yards.

  • zoltanfrombudapest

    Interesting article. Yeah; this test shows us, who is probably fit for the job. But being almost perfect psychically for a position not equals that someone will be a great player and vica versa (as you mentioned).
    Can’T wait for part 2 though!