Breaking Down New Drills At The Scouting Combine

Photo: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It's the spectacle of events leading up to the draft and the biggest interview of the lives of many 20-23-year-old individuals. The NFL Scouting Combine is an event that everyone looks forward to. 

It’s not just the glitz and glamour it brings, but it's the only place where we get to see over 300 of the top draft-eligible players in the country compete under one roof. Legends and memories are often created from the event, but each one has its own plot and is filled with exciting storylines.

The 2020 edition is right around the corner as the schedule of events is set to kick off Monday. However, this year’s event will be quite different. First reported by Sports Illustrated’s Kalyn Kahler, there are a number of changes including the start time to maximize viewership. This is a move that has been in the works for years, but the league remained hesitant about it because of the working formula of years past. There are plenty of other changes that are on the horizon as well.


A change that many weren't expecting was the number of allotted meetings with prospects. Previously each team was allowed a maximum of 60 15-minute interviews, but now the number has been reduced to 45 18-minute discussions. 

These meetings are essentially like speed dating in that teams are attempting to collect as much knowledge as they can about prospects. From events that happened throughout their careers to film sessions, there's a lot that players experience from teams. These meetings are very beneficial to teams that are trying to unveil some of the character concerns of a player who may have red flags from previous happenings.


These discussions are a way to find out the true story. Fewer interview numbers mean that the margin for error is slimmer for teams. 


There are plenty of new additions to the combine that many fans will find intriguing. Yesterday, I revealed the new additions that will be added to the athletic testing. With so much interest in the new drills, some had never heard of a few of the new adds. No worries. I'm here to help.

Timed “Figure 8” bend drill

The purpose of this drill is to see how flexible defensive linemen are while also being able to turn the corner. The objective for participants is to stay as tight to the hoop as possible. This shows that they are flexible at the hips, able to turn the corner and explore new surface areas when possible within the pocket. Here’s an example from the Miami Dolphins offseason training activities, you can see that the operating levels and bend help show the lean that is needed while being able to turn the corner.

A hidden goal of this drill is the towel on the ground. I can't confirm that there will be objects on the ground or edges of the hula hoops, but if so, they are there for the prospects to grab. Being able to bend and grab these objects while staying on the move displays their bend levels. Ankle flexion is another trait that is brought to the forefront during this sequence as well.

Timed “Gauntlet” drill

Outside of the on-field testing, one drill that many pay close attention to is the catch gauntlet. This is where receivers and defensive backs run sideline to sideline and are thrown through to by a series of quarterbacks while operating at high tempos. This drill serves to show the catch comfort of participants and the burst after the catch following their final snag at the conclusion of the drill. 

It starts with an initial over the shoulder flip prior to running in a straight line while catching as many passes as possible. The difference between this year’s event and years past is that it will now be timed to ensure prospects are giving maximum effort. This is an attempt to keep players from coasting through, but the element of competition is an environment that the combine committee is hoping comes to fruition.

Timed “W” drill

The “W” drill is a staple that's been a part of the combine since its existence. One that all defensive backs experience, the drill is designed to shed light on the fluidity, bend and change of direction skills.

It's easy to see which prospects are tight-hipped or ones that struggle to get in and out of their breaks. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when you encounter a player that does it with ease, it is a thing of beauty to watch. Similar to the gauntlet, the event is now timed to see how effective each player can transition.

Written By:

Jordan Reid

Senior NFL Draft Analyst

Jordan Reid is a Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Gaining experience from various lenses of the game, he has previously served as a college quarterback, position coach, and recruiting coordinator at North Carolina Central University. He now serves as a Color Commentator for FloSports, covering both high school and college football games around the country while also being the host of The Reid Option Podcast.