After the last touchdown is scored and the last second ticks off the clock and the Super Bowl for that year is in the record books the next day the NFL season starts over and is in the process of getting ready for the next year.
Most of the players may hit the golf courses and take some time off for leisure to let their body heal and rest from the pounding they took from the last season, but right off the bat, most Head Coaches in the NFL continue their daily routine getting up early and hitting the chalkboards to develop new plays that add more offensive weapons to their existing play books. Then they try to re-evaluate the plays that turned out to be flops and get the chalkboards ready for the next training camp which really only starts a few months down the line.
One of the main things NFL teams do in the off-season is to recruit. Every team is gunning for the number draft picks out of some college where they can sign him as their start player and their number one team asset. Lately we have seen the Quarterback position in the spotlight of the number draft pick. Most teams are out to get that star quarterback to enhance their power driving offense and to recruit a leader that can lead the team in those two-minute drill situations when they are down by two points and there is less than two-minutes on the clock they need a player that can march the team down the field faster than a formula one dragster hits zero t sixty when accelerating on the green light.
John Elway who is one of my High School ex-classmates from Granada Hills High out of Southern California did the two-minute drill the best. As you know he played for the Denver Broncos and through the late eighties and early nineties John performed more two-minutes drills which resulted in last second touchdown and field goal wins for the Broncos that probably most any quarterback from that era did.
Others positions that are highly recruited for form NFL scouts are the running back which most teams are looking for players that have speed, agility and can shoot through the offensive line faster than a flaming arrow at warp speed. Team are looking for the safety position for players that are fast and can keep up with receivers and be able to pick off any pass coming in their direction and most teams are also looking for any players that stands out in any defensive position that can hit like a Mack Truck.
So, the question becomes how do you make it to the NFL? By being scouted and recruited and getting invited to the NFL Scout Combine. The NFL Scout Combine dates back to 1982 when it was first known as the NFL Scouting Inc. I t was first held in Tampa, Florida in those days.
Now, the NFL Scout Combine is held every year in Indianapolis. In the early years, only the top NFL prospects were invited to the Combine but now it is every player that is projected to be scouted into the NFL.
IN the early years players were mainly invited to the NFL Scout Combine to look at their medical condition. Now their medical condition is evaluated but the Combine consists of many physical and mental drills that player have to perform perfectly in to even be consider for the multi-million dollar contract with any team in the NFL.
There are roughly three-hundred and thirty-five players that are invited each year to the Combine. The combine consists of thirteen tests and evaluations along with the position oriented drills. Some of the drills are the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 20-yard shuttle, three cone drill, 60-yard shuttle, interviews, and the Cybex test which is a rather interesting evaluation that no one is really aware of. During the test, a player is hooked up to a special machine that evaluates joint movement. physical measurements, injury evaluation, drug screen, the Cybex test and the Wonderlic test.
The Wonderlic test measure cognitive ability to solve problems. I s a time, twelve-minute test that consist of fifty questions. It is an interesting test and I can say that in all honesty because I have taken the Wonderlic Test in the past for pre-employment. It is also a fun test to take because it is timed and presents you with an array of mind boggling questions that make you really think and solve problems in a timely manner.
To show that the Wonderlic Test is not a cake walk some of the average scores of different players in various positions are as follows and these scores are from Paul Zimmerman`s novel, The New Thinking Man`s Guide to Pro Football:
Offensive tackle 26, center 25, quarterback 24, guard, 23, tight end 22, safety 19, linebacker 19, cornerback 18, fullback 17, wide receiver 17 and halfback 16.
The highest score was achieved by Pat McInally who played for the Cincinnati Bengals back in the 1980s and was a punter and wide receiver and also graduated from Harvard. His score was a perfect 50/50. Doesn`t surprise me, those Ivy League college boys are not dummies. McInally holds the record for the NFL for the highest score on the Wonderlic test.
Some other interesting trivia about the NFL Scouting Combine consists of some recorded set by present and past players. Tennessee Titans` Chris Johnson ran an NFL scouting combine record 4.24 40-yard dash. He either must have drank a pot of coffee that day or he is very fast, if you ever watch him play he is just very fast.
Eastern Kentucky`s Justin Ernest set the NFL scouting combine record of 51 bench press reps of 225 lbs. back in 1999. For you weightlifters out there, you know to be able to take 225 pounds and be able to put it up fifty-one times is mind boggling. Ernest never really panned out in the NFL but he can bench press the Earth with this record.
Gerald Sensabaugh recorded the highest vertical jump back in the 2005 NFL scouting combine, as he jumped an incredible 46 inches. To be able to almost jump four feet in the air (measured from the bottom of your shoes) is not easy. I did it once back in Junior High playing basketball. I went up for the rebound and ended up landing my rear end on the shoulder of the point guard who must have been around six foot five inches tall and I am only five foot seven inches tall. I must have had springs on my shoes that day. Sensabaugh now plays for the Dallas Cowboys and I think with that leaping ability he will be blocking many field goal tries on special teams. He also is a defensive safety and has so far recorded fourteen interceptions which doesn`t surprise me to be able to leap in the air and take the ball away from just about any receiver playing today.
Iowa wide receiver Kevin Kasper recorded the fastest 20-yard shuttle time back in 2001, when he clocked in at an impressive 3.73 seconds. That would be equivalent in animal terms to the fastest racehorse out of the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby.
The next test players perform is called the three-cone drill is used to test the player`s ability, quickness and movement when making a sharp cut. It`s conducted with three cones that are placed five yards apart from each other forming a right angle. The total distance of this drill is 30 yards.
Some of the player`s records are Wide receiver Jeff Mael out of Oregon set the NFL scouting combine during last year`s combine, as he ran a blazing 6.42 seconds, which edged Buster Skrine of that same class by .02 seconds. Take it from me to be able to put up these types of numbers you have to be really fast, quick on your feet, and be able to be as agile as a rubber band.
So, like I have told my son who also wants to try to make it to the NFL or at least tryout for it, to be able to make it will take 24/7, 365-days a year training. You have to be the best of the best to be able to edge out other players and even get the attention of NFL Scouts.
If you are a player that wants to just shoot up the ranks and get into the NFL, my advice would be to try out for the Arena Football League, break some records there and then get noticed by the NFL. Then get invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and get your shot at the NFL. I wished I would have at least did this then maybe I now could have been sitting in the broadcasting booth somewhere as a retired player or maybe on the NFL on Fox pregame show along with Howie Long, Terry Bradshaw, Michael Strahan, and Jimmie Johnson giving my analyst views of every Sunday game.