The NFL offseason is now officially underway with the draft and free agency taking center stage. The
biggest single event leading up to the draft is the NFL Combine which begins on February 20 in
Indianapolis. Over the next two weeks, DRAFTMETRICS will be publishing a series of articles regarding
the Combine. Information in these articles is based on the 1999 through 2012 Combines and was
gathered primarily from a variety of internet sources.

The DRAFTMETRICS analysis includes the results of the following drills:

Combine Events

Not every invited player participates in all the Combine drills. Some choose not to participate at all in drills because they don’t think it will help their draft position and may appear only for interview sessions with NFL teams. Others decline because of injury. A number of players attend the Combine but are selective about the drills in which they participate.

"The Combine Chronicles" series includes an article for each playing position or, as with the offensive line, a group of playing positions. Each article will review Combine results from three perspectives: 

• Provide a context for Combine results by reporting historical performance
• Consider whether results of any Combine drills are meaningful predictors of future success
• Consider whether results of any Combine drills portend a low probability of success

DRAFTMETRICS summarized its information by four overlapping groups of players. A player can be included in only one group or as many as all four. The groups are:
• All Combine participants from 1999 through 2012
• Combine participants who were drafted from 1999 through 2012
• Combine participants who started at least one season (starters start at least games in a season)
• Combine participants who started at least three seasons

In studying the offensive line, the most compelling lesson learned by DRAFTMETRICS is that there is not anything close to a “cookie cutter” that fits successful offensive linemen. The table on the last page of this article shows that event results do tend to improve at each level of success for all drills, but that the improvement is so minimal that it can be largely ignored.

The following table shows, for all players who started at least one season, the best and worst performance in each drill. This wide range of results, even among successful players, reinforces the point that the Combine drills are not overly important in evaluating offensive linemen.

Combine Results

The principal DRAFTMETRICS observations are as follows:
• Overall, the Combine results are pretty inconsequential for offensive linemen
• Centers
   -Starter results are only slightly better than all Combine participants and all drafted participants
   -The largest differences are in the agility drills (20 yard shuttle and 3-Cone drill), but even those are modest
      -18% of 1-year starters recorded a 20-yard shuttle time of 4.43 or better versus 10% of all Combine participants and 14% of draftees
      -35% of 1-year starters recorded a 20-yard shuttle time of 4.51 or better versus 20% of all Combine participants and 28% of draftees
• Guards
   -Starter results are only slightly better than all Combine participants and all drafted participants
   -The same general pattern as Centers regarding the agility drills, but to a lesser degree
• Tackles
   -Starter results are only slightly better than all Combine participants and all drafted participants
   -Somewhat surprisingly, the Broad Jump stands out as the best predictor of success, though one has to wonder if that is just a statistical oddity
      -16% of 1-year starters jumped 110 inches or more versus 11% of all participants and 12% of draftees
      -35% of 1-year starters jumped 107 inches or more versus 21% of all participants and 23% of draftees

The next table shows number of participants and average results for each drill and each playing positon.

Average Combine Results

COMING WEDNESDAY: TIGHT ENDS

Tony is the founder of DRAFTMETRICS.COM can be e-mailed at draftmetrics@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @draftmetrics