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NFL scouting combine drills get new look, but don't worry, the 40 remains

The NFL scouting combine has a new schedule with a focus on prime-time television, and the on-field drills are getting a new look as well. But the event still includes staples such as the 40-yard dash.

New times

Quarterbacks will throw and the 40-yard dashes will begin Thursday, with live television coverage from 4 to 11 p.m. Wide receivers and tight ends also work out Thursday.

Offensive linemen, running backs and specialists work out Friday, with coverage from 4 to 11 p.m. Defensive linemen and linebackers work out from 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday. Defensive backs work out from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday.

DRILLS

40-yard dash

The No. 1 metric that sticks with players from the combine. Those with slower than expected times aim to go faster at their pro days. Those with strong times often slip the 40-yard dash at their pro days. As much as the total time is significant, scouts also look at the split time for the first 10-yards as a measure of quick acceleration.

Vertical jump

The player leaps from a stationary position with feet side-by-side. The drill is intended to measure lower-body explosiveness.

Broad jump

The player stands behind a line with feet and shoulder square. He must hit the landing with both feet or the jump does not count. This is another measure of lower-body explosiveness.

Bench press

The player must lift a 225-pound barbell as many times as he can. Often, only a poor showing relative to a player’s position has any relevance. For example, players with shorter arms need to move the bar a shorter distance to reach full extension, but shorter arms aren’t considered advantageous in football.

Three-cone drill

Three cones are placed in a right-triangle alignment, each 5 yards apart. Think of an L. The player runs from the outside base cone to the middle cone and back, then runs the perimeter of the L and back. It’s a measure of lateral quickness, change of direction and flexibility.

20-yard shuttle

Measure of short-area quickness and ability to sink the hips. Three cones are placed 5 yards apart on a horizontal line. The player starts at the middle cone and runs to an outside cone, then 10 yards to the far cone, then 5 yards back to the middle.

60-yard shuttle

Three cones are placed 5, 10 and 15 yards apart. The player must run to each cone and back, totaling 60 yards. This drill is for offensive skill position players, linebackers and defensive backs.

POSITION DRILLS

These have been revamped with 10 drills being eliminated and 16 drills being added.

Quarterbacks: Added end zone fade throw in which quarterbacks throw to receivers running 10-yard fade routes to the right pylon. Added route drill in which quarterback throws a smoke-now route, a route usually adjusted at the line based on presnap reads for a quick completion. Quarterbacks will throw to each side.

Running backs: Added Duce Staley drill involving step-over bags aimed to see how well a running back can use his eyes to see a hole while impeding by obstacles. Added inside routes with change of direction in which the back will run an angle route and catch a pass while going against his own body.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Just the like quarterbacks, the end zone fade has been added. The toe tap drill has been eliminated.

Offensive line: Added mirror drill in which cones are lined up 6 yards apart and the player must move to his left or right based on the coach’s direction. Tests change of direction ability. Added new screen to simulate the release action on a screen pass. Pull drills will have the player engage with a sled and not a bag.

Defensive line: Stack and shed drill is eliminated and the run and club has been added. Player will move from a three-point stance and run through five bags using a variety of moves. A run the hoop drill has been added in which two hoops are on the ground 2 yards apart. Each hoop has a towel in it. The player moves from a three-point stance on the snap and picks up and drops the towel as he moves around the hoops.

Linebackers: A shuffle, spring and change of direction drill has a player start in a two-point stance, shuffle across the field, then open his hips and sprint and then change direction. A new drill has been added to see how a player breaks in zone coverage on short routes rather than the more traditional drop in pass coverage.

Defensive back: Four new drills are added to test the player’s ability to back pedal, change direction, and run at angles that are needed in pass coverage.

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