When we watch the combine, wouldn’t it be great to see it as a coach and GM sees it? Thankfully, Pat Kirwin wrote the best article on understanding the NFL Combine back in March 2005 and since reading that article, the NFL Combine has made so much more sense to me. Since Black and Teal readers are the most intelligent fans in Jacksonville, we offer this so you can continue to follow the draft process with high awareness.
There are two elements the NFL Combine is trying to look for, speed and power. We will cover the power in this article and speed in another. First a disclaimer; combine numbers are intoxication but they are not a direct translation to NFL success. They are an indicator of some raw athletic ability but not football playing ability. So don’t think we can project success with combine numbers.
EXPLOSIVENESS – Who can bring the wood?
There are two components to having explosiveness in your play, your leg power and your upper body strength. In the combine, leg power is measured by the broad jump and the vertical jump. The upper body strength is measured by the bench press reps.
Pat Kirwin said that simply adding these three up delivered an overall explosiveness rating. Guys with the biggest numbers had the most raw talent to plow through the other guy and enforce their will on the play.
The explosiveness rating is great for guys in the trenches, especially offensive guards and defensive linemen. It is also good for safeties and linebackers, but speed and change of direction becomes more important for those guys.
Overall though, it is impressive and desirable to have explosiveness.
Past Explosiveness Ratings: O-Line
On the offensive line, technique and understanding the blocking schemes become important. Guys can bulk up and improve their ability, but having explosiveness is a nice feature to have especially as a guard. Here are some O-Line measurements from last year:
Name BP V BJ Total Comments
Russell Bodine 42 29 10 81 Starting center for Cincinnati
Greg Robinson 32 28 11 71 Horrible year for St. Louis at LT
Taylor Lewan 29 30 11 70 Starting LT for Tennessee
Gabe Jackson 30 29 10 69 Top 10 pass blocking LG in Oakland
Zack Martin 29 28 10 67 Anchored the Dallas O-Line at RG
Brandon Linder 30 26 9 65 Top Jaguar O-Line RG
Joel Bitonio 22 32 11 65 Pro Bowl LG season with Cleveland
Jake Matthews 24 30 10 64 Horrible year for Atlanta at LT
James JaWuan 22 29 11 62 Rough first year in Miami as R/ L Tackle
Cyril Richardson 25 25 9 59 Rough first year with Buffalo as LG
When it comes to O-Line Guards, we are looking for guys who are considered good draft prospects first and then something in the mid-60’s and higher for explosiveness. If you see a guy with off the chart numbers, then we will pay attention, line the Bengals did with Russell Bodine in the middle rounds. Tackles are a more specialized position and a good rating doesn’t hurt, but being a good football player is primary. Luke Joeckel put up number similar to Jake Matthews.
Past Explosiveness Ratings: D-Line
When it comes to the Defensive Line, technique is also important, but explosiveness is a key factor. Look at Jadaveon Clowney’s leg strength. That is what he is known for, straight ahead drive and quickness. Aaron Donald had an amazing year for St. Louis. I think we will see more from Chris Smith in the coming season. He had the quickness coming off the line and decent top side strength. If he stays quick and bulks up, he will be a force.
Name BP V BJ Total Comments
Aaron Donald 35 32 11 78 Top NFL DT for St. Louis
Ra’Shede Hageman 32 35 11 78 Didn’t play at lot for Atlanta
Chris Smith 28 37 12 77 Didn’t play a lot for the Jags
Jadeveon Clowney 21 37 12 70 Tore his knee up at Houston
Timmy Jernigan 27 29 10 66 Top 15 DE for Baltimore
Michael Sam 17 25 11 53 Hasn’t found a team
I included Michael Sam not because he is gay but to show how far below he was in overall explosiveness compared to the top drafted guys. He was a familiar name to show contrast.
Other Defensive Linemen you might want to know about:
Ndamukong Suh 32 35 10 78
J.J. Watt 34 37 10 81
Tyson Alualu 21 35 11 66
You can see when it comes to the D-Line, the explosiveness rating jumps up a level. Where it is rare to see an offensive lineman in the 70’s, it is much more common on the D-Line.
Just as a side note, one of the reasons I got excited about Dwayne Gratz and think he should play Safety was his combine explosiveness. He had a total of 72 as a cornerback with a 22 reps on the bench press, a 38 inch vertical and a 12 foot broad jump. Dwayne Gratz can bring the wood. Dwayne Gratz should be a Safety.
We will continue to watch this year’s NFL Combine and see who is standing out.
Thanks for reading!