Have you ever looked at an insect under a microscope? You notice every little detail of this animal. You then talk about all of your findings with others. Well this concept is actually what all of these NFL draft prospects will be going through; they are put under a microscope all the way until the day that they are drafted.
Let’s start from the beginning. Thousands of college football players are playing their final game. Most of them will move on to their careers and maybe even become coaches. Others will live out their ultimate dream of playing professional football. Any athlete who has finished their Senior season can enter draft. If you are a junior entering the draft, you must fill out paper work to release you of your school’s scholarship allowing you to enter the draft.
Once you have decided to pursue this career you will need to hire a form of representation. We call these people sports agents. Agents will only make a percentage of your pay check so they for the most part will try to keep your best in mind. They will usually pay for any type of necessities like trainers, nutritionists and somewhere to live up until you’re drafted.
You will then begin the process of training for the NFL Combine. Only 275 players out of the entire country will be invited to the combine. This is where every scout from every team will have the ability to evaluate your knowledge and ability to play football. While training for the combine, these athletes will work on every part of the game. These days can start at 6 a.m. and go all the way until 11 p.m. Not a single hour is wasted whether it’s in a gym, on the field, in the classroom or recovering from the day all of these athletes will work tirelessly to make their dreams come true. The events at the combine these athletes will train for consist of the 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical, short shuttle, bench press and of course positional drills.
Each of these different drills will measure an athlete’s athleticism. The 40-yard dash will be an area that can make or break an athlete, this event measure your speed. Broad jump will measure a player’s explosion they have in their lower body. Vertical is a drill to show how high you can jump. Some positions have an important emphasis on this drill. The short shuttle is a drill to see if the athlete can move fast and fluently lateral. Some peoples favorite drill is the 225-pound bench press test. You lay on the bench and rep out 225 pounds as many times as you can. This is a drill that will tell your strength but most feel will tell a scout how seriously you took the weight room while in college. Lastly the position drills, each position will have about five or six maybe more position specific drills to showcase their talents to every scout. For example wide receivers will obviously run different routes and catch balls, whereas the defensive line will do many different bag agility drills to show their ability to bend at the waste and rush the quarterback.
There are 256 players taken each year in the NFL draft. Others can be picked up after the draft but let’s keep our focus on those 256. This means not everyone invited to the NFL Combine will be drafted. This keeps players motivated and working hard knowing that yes being invited to the combine is a huge accomplishment but not the end all.
Once you complete your time at the combine you will now have your pro day. What a pro day consists of is everything the NFL Combine does except it is now at your school. The scouts are also able to be more personable and have more time interviewing the player to get to know them a lot better. The pro day is usually a few weeks or few months after the combine. So players have the ability to continue working hard to be able to improve their times or numbers from the combine if they were not happy with the results. For example, Jamal Adams one of the best players in this year’s draft improved his 40 time from the draft where he ran a 4.56 and at his pro day ran a 4.33. Adams said “Having the extra preparation time and ability to continue work helped me out a lot for my pro day.” Pro days are also usually a lot less stressful because you’re at your own school with all of your teammates around you cheering you on or working out with you. You also have your position coaches and trainers there the whole time to give you pointers during testing or position drills.
Now that pro days are over, teams can have what they call local day. A local day is where an organization can invite 30 players who played within a 150-mile radius of their team to come and workout. Now the team has you in a one-on-one atmosphere at their facility and can put you through any type of drills to see get an even better evaluation on the player. I know what you’re thinking, do the workouts ever stop? And yes, this is the last workout you have to do for teams as your athletic evaluation. Once you have finished with a local day you will continue to work out but less in a combine style and more in a getting ready for the upcoming season style.
As you continue to work out and stay focus on the draft teams will fly players out to their facilities who they may be interested in drafting. They tour the players around the facility, introduce them to all of the coaches and usually sit down with the player’s possible position coach and talk about the players playing style. This is really where the organization will get to know the athlete as a person. Teams will figure out if they fit in their playing scheme or if they even want that player on their team.
These meetings can take place all the way up until the week until the draft. Everything for the athletes are now done. The NFL Combine, Pro Day, Local Day and meeting with all of the teams are now over. Now maybe the hardest and most stressful part of the entire process is to come, waiting to hear your name call. Many players will have their childhood dreams become a reality after putting in endless amount of work but this is just the beginning to what becomes even more work, fighting to make an NFL roster for their careers.