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NFL Combine drills and how the 2019 Buffalo Bills’ draft class performed

Did Brandon Beane pick athletic freaks?

The 2020 NFL Combine is upon us. Next week will see players, coaches, and front-office personnel descend on Indianapolis for what is affectionately referred to as “The Underwear Olympics.” 40-yard dashes will be hand-timed, ridiculous interview questions will be asked, and NFL Network’s Rich Eisen will run in a suit.

I’d say that pretty much sums in up. All the casual viewer would need would be Mike Mayock in the booth saying someone was “quicker than fast” and they could turn off the TV after the final day satisfied that their needs were met.

The Combine helps to fulfill four needs of prospect evaluation: on-field drills, athletic testing, medical evaluations, and interviews. The results of medical evaluation and interviews are largely hidden from the general public, although a particularly savvy agent or team might leak a particular nugget to the media to accomplish a clandestine goal. The on-field drills help to evaluate movements and actions common to the prospect’s position. Finally, the athletic testing shows NFL scouts and decision makers what caliber of athlete they’re considering.

Athletic testing can be broken down into five categories:

  • Size = height/weight measurements, arm length, hand size
  • Strength = bench press
  • Speed = 40-yard dash, 20-yard split, 10-yard split
  • Explosion = vertical jump, broad jump
  • Agility = short shuttle, three-cone

Knowing what trait the drills are intended to measure will help you when discussing prospects. Here’s how the Buffalo Bills’ 2019 draft class performed at the 2019 NFL Combine for your reference (if there is no data, it indicates that particular player did not participate in that drill in Indianapolis that year):

Ed Oliver (6’2”, 287 lbs)

  • Vertical jump: 36.00 inches
  • Bench press (reps of 225 lbs): 32
  • Broad jump: 120 inches

Cody Ford (6’4”, 329 lbs)

  • 40-yard dash: 5.21 seconds
  • Vertical jump: 28.5 inches
  • Bench press (reps of 225 lbs): 19
  • Broad jump: 104 inches
  • 3-cone: 8.27 seconds
  • Short shuttle: 4.87 seconds

Devin Singletary (5’7”, 203 lbs)

  • 40-yard dash: 4.66 seconds
  • Bench press (reps of 225 lbs.): 17

Dawson Knox (6’4”, 254 lbs)

  • Vertical jump: 34.5 inches
  • Bench press (reps of 225 lbs): 16
  • 3-cone: 7.12 seconds

Vosean Joseph (6’1”, 230 lbs)

No data recorded. It should be noted that Vosean Joseph was injured in the lead up to the 2019 NFL Draft and attempted to obtain the athletic testing numbers NFL teams like to see during his pro day, but tested very poorly at that time with his injury likely being a large contributing factor.

Tommy Sweeney (6’4”, 251 lbs)

  • 40-yard dash: 4.83 seconds
  • Bench press (reps of 225 lbs): 17