By Justin VanFulpen
In the past 20 years since Mike Mamula’s 1995 NFL Combine, training for the NFL Combine has become a big business. There are hundreds of places that say they do NFL Combine training and now training facilities recruit like agents. But do you need to go to a big training facility to be successful in the NFL draft the answer is NO.
If we look at this year’s draft two of the top five players drafted WR Amari Cooper, Alabama (Drafted by the Raiders 4th overall) and OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa (Drafted by the Redskins 5th overall) both trained at school. Also Bud Dupree, Kentucky the 22nd overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers trained at school.
17 players that where drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft trained at school. There are different factors that need to be looked at when making a decision where to training for the NFL Combine or your Pro Day. A few of them are:
Location – Everyone loves the sun and warm weather but remember where the NFL Combine is located at. It is in Indianapolis, Indiana in late February. I have been in the NFL combine for the past 15 years it is never warm and sunny. Also think about where you go to school since that is where your Pro Day is at. Players in the past have gone away to train in warm weather and then haven’t performed as well as they wanted to in Indy or at their school Pro Day since the weather was complete different.
Personal Attention – How many guys will you be training with? Will there be 50 guys training with you and if so how much work on technique will there be done. If you are going somewhere other the school most likely you or someone else is paying that trainer, so that trainer gets paid no matter if you get drafted or don’t so just need to make sure they have your best interest in mind as well.
Position Specific Training – Who is working with you to get better at your position? Will there be anyone that played or coached your position before?
Medical/Rehab – After every football season everyone body is banged up or have some type of injury could be major or minor but need to have a place that will take that into consideration.
Familiar Surrounding – Depending on your bowl game/playoffs as well as getting invited to an all-star game you won’t have a lot of time to get settled into your routine before the NFL combine so that is something to take into consideration.
Your Individual Plan – Some guys don’t take a lot of this into consideration and just default into whatever work for past teams or what they feel is a “big” name training facility. But you need to remember that everyone is different.
But when you get to training for the combine or your Pro Day 80% of your grade has already be decided with what you did on the field. Because as everyone knows the eye in the sky doesn’t lie when it comes to film.
In any type of training the biggest thing is you are going get out what you put in.
By Justin VanFulpen
A lot of people believe that the NFL Draft is made up of the Power 5 college football conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC & Pac-12) in college football but that is not totally the case. If we take a look at the past 4 NFL Draft we see that there are a good amount of draft picks that come from other levels of college football.
2015 NFL Draft (256 picks):
56 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (21.8%)
20 of those 56 Non-FBS
Baltimore Ravens WR Breshad Perriman, UCF – 1st round 26th overall pick was the earliest Non-Power 5 pick.
San Francisco 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt, Samford – 2nd round 46th overall pick was the earliest Non-FBS pick.
2014 NFL Draft (256 picks):
84 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (32.8%)
24 of those 84 Non-FBS
Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles, UCF – 1st round 3 pick overall was the earliest Non-Power 5 pick.
New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois – 2nd round 62nd overall was the earliest Non-FBS pick.
2013 NFL Draft (254 picks):
88 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (34.6%)
29 of those 88 Non-FBS
Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan – 1st round 1st overall pick was the earliest Non-Power 5 pick.
Atlanta Falcons CB Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana – 2nd round 60th overall was the earliest Non-FBS pick.
2012 NFL Draft (253 picks):
69 Draft picks Non-Power 5 (27.2%)
22 of those 69 Non-FBS
Kansas City Chiefs DT Dontari Poe, Memphis – 1st round 11th overall pick was the earliest Non-Power 5 pick.
St. Louis Rams WR Brian Quick, Appalachian State – – 2nd round 33rd overall was the earliest Non-FBS pick. (In 2012 Appalachian State was non FBS – they have moved to the FBS now)
So in the past 4 NFL Draft we see there was at least 1 first round pick from a Non-5 Power conference and in 2013 the first overall pick came from a Non-5 Power conference. In the past 4 NFL draft ever year there has been a 2nd round pick that was from a Non-FBS school.
So just remember if you are in a Power 5 conference there are other guys looking to get drafted just as high as you are and if you are not in a Power 5 conference it doesn’t matter if you can play football the NFL will find you.
By Justin VanFulpen
The NFL Combine has become a made for TV event for the NFL and it sponsors like Under Armor and the rest. Everyone loves to watch the 40 yard dash to see how fast all the players but the biggest reason all 32 NFL teams come to Indianapolis for the NFL combine is the medical test as well as the interviews that they can get done with over 300 players all at one location.
Former Dallas Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, proposed to the NFL competition committee a centralization of the evaluation process for NFL teams. Prior to 1982, teams had to schedule individual visits with players to run them through drills and tests.
How do players get invited to the NFL Combine? Well for years the rumor was a player needed 6 votes to get invited but that is not the case. Here is what is directly from the NFL Combine website www.nflcombine.net about that subject.
“How are players selected for the NFL Combine?
Participants are determined annually by a Selection Committee. The Directors of both National and BLESTO scouting services, which combined represent twenty-five NFL teams, are joined by members of various NFL player personnel departments to form the committee. The participating NFL executives can rotate on a yearly basis, and remain anonymous. ALL eligible players are reviewed and voted on by the committee members. Each athlete receiving the necessary number of votes, by position, is then extended an invitation. While it is not a perfect science, the goal of the committee is to invite every player that will be drafted in the ensuing NFL Draft.”
There is no set number of invites but usually it is around 330 players, this year there were 322 players invited to the NFL Combine. Just because a player is invited to the NFL Combine does not guarantee that he will get drafted since there are only 256 players drafted each year in the NFL Draft. Now if a player goes to the NFL Combine there is a better chance that he will get drafted then players that doesn’t. But there are always players who didn’t get invited to the NFL Combine that get drafted, and this past year it was a very high number of players who didn’t get invited to the NFL Combine that got drafted, a total of 41.
Below is the breakdown by rounds of players who didn’t get invited to the combine but where drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft.
4th round – 3 players
5th round – 7 players
6th round – 16 players
7th round – 15 players
So just doing the math 107 players that went to the NFL Combine didn’t get drafted. So only 66.7% of the players that went to the NFL Combine got drafted this year.
Remember the NFL Combine is just part of the elevation process, with centralizing it and having all 32 teams involved it has cut down on part of the expense and one of the biggest part of the combine that isn’t shown on NFL Network is the medical aspect of it.
By Justin VanFulpen
Player’s NFL Draft grade is much more then what a player does on the field or how fast he runs at the NFL Combine. Two of things most over looked when fans are watching the NFL draft and wondering why a certain player hasn’t been picked is medical and character. We saw this play out in this past NFL Draft.
RB Jay Ajayi of Boise State had a 2nd round grade on him by most people as a football player but had to wait to be drafted until the 5th round by the Miami Dolphins because of a concern about his knee which he tore his ACL back in 2011 but hadn’t missed a game since coming back from the injury. There were reports that he flunked some physicals and that there is bone-on-bone according to some of the doctors, and people question how long he will last in the NFL. GM’s and personal people with the NFL club look to their team doctors to make final say on if a prospect can be keep on the draft board or taken off based on the medical information.
On the flip side there were some character concerns involving drugs that cost a few NFL prospects including Randy Gregory, Nebraska who most thought was a top 10 NFL Draft prospect who had a failed drug test at the NFL combine and also reports that teams were concerned that he wasn’t as mature as they would like. Gregory was drafted in the 2nd round 60th overall by the Dallas Cowboys. Some NFL clubs will take a player off their team draft board completely because of character concerns.
With medical issues there is not much a player can do to alleviate the concerns of a NFL team. But the character grade the NFL teams give a NFL prospect that is something that a prospect can have an influence on, true everyone makes mistakes but some mistakes cost players more than others.
What goes into a prospects NFL grade? Well here is a quick list of what makes up a NFL grade on a prospect.
1. Film – Mostly from prospect final year in college
2. Athleticism – Each team has certain things they are looking at from the testing numbers (Height, Weight, 40, Vertical, etc.)
5. Football IQ – This would include personality testing as well as ability to process information (Wonderlic)
6. Scheme Fit – Each team is looking at a prospect based on how they fit what their offense or defense likes to do. (Example 3-4 vs. 4-3 defense, how does the Defensive linemen fit their scheme)