NFL Combine scouting pictures are worth a 1000 words
by Ted Sundquist
Before the NFL Network got hold of the National Invitational Camp (better known as the NFL Combine) there was little the outside world knew about what went on behind the walls of the RCA Dome. Now google NFL Combine scouting pictures and you get over 1.64 million results.
But really itís not so bad. I like having the exposure and the pressure it brings down upon the prospects. In fact itís created an entire cottage industry around combine preparation and now combine coverage. Experts in both fields have popped up out of nowhere, many never having even made the trip to frigid Indy in February.
But thereís one thing you canít prepare for or hide from, and thatís your obligatory NFL Combine scouting picture. The chance to see a draft prospect in nothing but his shorts is rather coveted opportunity that is annually captured in some sort of photographic format.
The most popular pic appears to be that of Tom Brady
. You have to really search hard to find many other NFL Combine scouting pictures out there for public consumption. I for one donít see what the big deal is. Itís just another opportunity to analyze and evaluate body types as they relate to athletic ability and performance on the field.
So The Football Educator thought it would do just that. Letís look at some past NFL Combine scouting pictures of former Denver Bronco draft choices and see what they might tell us.Elvis Dumervil and Brandon Marshall were both selected by the Denver in the 4th round of the 2006 draft. This might arguably be as good a class as the Broncos have ever had, producing QB Jay Cutler (Bears), TE Tony Scheffler (Lions), WR Domenik Hixon (Giants) and starting Bronco OG Chris Kuper. For a Defensive End, Dumervilís height jumps out by just looking at the chart (5′ 11 3/8″). But you immediately notice his long arms for a shorter stature. Itís this extension that gives Elvis such a great advantage when taking on Offensive Tackles. But couple that with a low center of gravity and an immense lower body (legs/butt) hidden behind those shorts, and you have the making of a pass rush phenom. This is a powerful player, with a strong upper body build (30 reps on bench press) and athletic lower. I do notice a smaller hand for the length of his arms (and it is at 9 1/8″).
Brandon Marshall is a specimen for the position of Wide Receiver. His height alone makes him a menace for most DBís and combine that with his reach of 32 5/8″ and you have todayís prototypical build for a dominant player at the position. What immediately jumps out at you is his upper body physique that is more in line with a linebacker than wide receiver. Itís this upper strength that makes him so hard to tackle in the open field. This is an unusual build for a receiver and one that all teams wish they had. Despite his overall size he is still explosive and powerful in the lower body, and showed it with a 37″ vertical jump and 10′ broad jump. Again however, notice the smaller hands for the longer arm. Brandon has been criticized in the past for dropping the football and does indeed struggle at times with an 8 7/8″ hand span.
Now two current Broncos that I didnít bring on to the roster, Eddie Royal and Wesley Woodyard. Royal was selected in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft and Woodyard was signed as an undrafted free agent. Both have enjoyed solid early careers. Royal is a smaller receiver, just over 5′ 9 1/2″. Heís a very solid 184 lbs as seen in his upper and lower body makeup. A highly developed chest shows a smaller player that enjoys the weight room, no surprise he was first at the Combine in bench press for WRís (24 reps). Arm length (31″) and lack of height give a smaller catching radius than most, and with only 8 5/8″ hands he will tend to body catch (hands appear smaller). This is a player with bigger thighs and rear end, leading to explosive power seen in his 10í4″ broad jump and #2 overall 10 yard time for WRís.
Woodyardís physical makeup immediately shows longer arms for a player at just over 6′. In fact his 34 5/8″ reach is longer than both Dumervil and Marshallís. He also shows bigger hands (specifically his left) and the 9 3/4″ span substantiates just that. His upper build looks a bit slight for a LB and his lower body is more in line with a sprinter (long lower leg). The knock on Woodyard out of college was escaping blocks with upper strength, but his speed was tops for the LB position. Woodyard has made most of his plays in straight line pursuit.