The National Football League Combine: Performance Differences Between Drafted and Nondrafted Players Entering the 2004 and 2005 Drafts

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The purpose of this study was to examine performance differences between drafted and nondrafted athletes (N = 321) during the 2004 and 2005 National Football League (NFL) Combines. We categorized players into one of 3 groups: Skill, Big skill, and Linemen. Skill players (SP) consisted of wide receivers, cornerbacks, free safeties, strong safeties, and running backs. Big skill players (BSP) included fullbacks, linebackers, tight ends, and defensive ends. Linemen (LM) consisted of centers, offensive guards, offensive tackles, and defensive tackles. We analyzed player height and mass, as well as performance on the following combine drills: 40-yard dash, 225-lb bench press test, vertical jump, broad jump, pro-agility shuttle, and the 3-cone drill. Student t-tests compared performance on each of these measures between drafted and nondrafted players. Statistical significance was found between drafted and nondrafted SP for the 40-yard dash (P < 0.001), vertical jump (P = 0.003), pro-agility shuttle (P < 0.001), and 3-cone drill (P < 0.001). Drafted and nondrafted BSP performed differently on the 40-yard dash (P = 0.002) and 3-cone drill (P = 0.005). Finally, drafted LM performed significantly better than nondrafted LM on the 40-yard dash (P = 0.016), 225-lb bench press (P = 0.003), and 3-cone drill (P = 0.005). Certified strength and conditioning specialists will be able to utilize the significant findings to help better prepare athletes as they ready themselves for the NFL Combine.

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