The Combine Chronicles: Tight End

This is the second in a series of articles about the NFL Combine, which begins on February 20. DRAFTMETRICS won’t repeat all the introductory information from the first article, but some degree of repetition is unavoidable. All information in this article is based on the 1999-2012 Combines. The DRAFTMETRICS analysis includes the results of the following drills:

Combine Events

This article reviews the 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 group or a 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 8 games in a season)
• Combine participants who started at least three seasons

Combine Events

As another step in setting the scene, the next table shows the range of results for all players who started for at least one season.

Combine Events

It should be noted that when this same analysis is done for 3-year starters the results are almost identical. The only real outlier is in the 3-Cone drill. The worst result in that drill for 3-year starters is 7.56. This wide range illustrates the fact that the Combine results are certainly not the final word in evaluating prospects.

DRAFTMETRICS offers the following additional observations based on its review of the Combine results
and subsequent NFL performance for Tight Ends:
Speed is marginally important
- The fastest players were almost always drafted but they didn’t always become starters
-20 of 21 players who ran a 1.57 better 10-yard split were drafted but only 12 became starters
-19 of 20 players who ran a 4.59 or better 40 were drafted but only 12 became starters
-21 of 22 players who ran a 1.92 or better “flying 20” were drafted but only 15 were starters
This is probably a statistical oddity versus other 40 splits as the advantage tends to dissipate as more starters are added into the mix
-Overall, the results of speed drills for 1-year starters tended to run about 10% better than for all Combine participants
-For example, a result that was achieved by 50% of all Combine participants was achieved by 60% of 1-year starters
-Is speed overrated at this position?
The bench press was not especially significant except between 1-year and 3-year starters
-82% of 3-year starters had 20 reps or more, compared 69% of 1-year starters, 69% of all drafted players and 60% of all Combine participants
The “explosion drills” (vertical jump and broad jump) tended to be most predictive of success
-22% of 1-year starters had a vertical jump of 37 inches or better compared to 12% of all Combine participants
-40% of 1-year starters had a vertical jump of 35

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