NFL Combine Position Drills: Running Back and Wide Receiver/Tight End

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Last week we dedicated a series of football scoreboards articles explaining the various workout drills and the Quarterback position drills that are a part of the NFL Combine, and what the team representatives and coaches are looking for in an athlete. This week, I have taken a look into the Running Back and Wide Receiver/Tight End position drills at the Combine.

Running Back Position Drill:

What is the Drill?
The Running Back drill is called the off-tackle reaction drill. In this drill, the athlete starts at a 2-point stance, takes the football from the coach and then runs through the cones and accelerates over a series of bags laid on the ground at equal distances. At the end of those bags is another coach holding a bag, almost as high as a crouched player. Whichever way the coach turns the bag (left or right), the athlete has to go in the opposite direction. Essentially, the coach in this drill is playing the role of an offensive tackle.

What Are the Football Scoreboards Team Representatives Looking For?
They pay close attention to the athlete’s initial burst of speed through the cones. Then, they study the acceleration of the athlete over the series of bags laid on the ground. It is important that the athlete is not looking down at the bags, because the coaches see it as a bad sign if he is not completely sure about the balance of his feet. The athlete has to be looking at the coach, just like he would be at a real tackler. Once the athlete sees the coach go to the left or the right with the bag, he has to plant his feet, pivot, turn and then accelerate as fast as he can. All these techniques are required for a running back to make the offensive tackle miss.

Wide Receiver/Tight End Position Drill:

What is the Drill?
This drill is called the Gauntlet and is a wide favorite among the NFL Combine fans. In this drill, a wide receiver or tight end will receive a throw from a coach to his right, catch the ball and then drop it. In the next second, he will turn to his left, receive another throw from a coach on his left, catch the ball and then drop that too. After dropping the ball from the second coach, he will dash straight down a yard line (like a 10-yard line) all the way across the field (approximately 53 yards). There will be 5 quarterbacks, 3 on one side 2 on the other side of the athlete, positioned at a 45-degree angle, who will all be throwing the ball at the athlete to catch. Immediately after he starts his dash across the field, he will look up to the first quarterback, pluck his throw from the air and immediately drop the ball (without letting the ball into the body). If he lets it into his body, he will never be ready for the next throw. This is repeated with the remaining 4 quarterbacks until he crosses the field.

What Are the Team Representatives Looking For?
First, they are looking for the athlete’s vision; how quickly he gets his eye on the next QB. Second, they are looking at how quickly and efficiently he catches the ball and drops it (i.e. his control over the ball). Finally, they are looking for the hand eye coordination of the athlete.

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