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The NFL Combine: Does It Predict Performance in the National Football League?

Kuzmits, Frank E; Adams, Arthur J

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: November 2008 - Volume 22 - Issue 6 - pp 1721-1727
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318185f09d
Original Research

Kuzmits, FE and Adams, AJ. The NFL combine: does it predict performance in the National Football League? J Strength Cond Res 22(6): 1721-1727, 2008-The authors investigate the correlation between National Football League (NFL) combine test results and NFL success for players drafted at three different offensive positions (quarterback, running back, and wide receiver) during a recent 6-year period, 1999-2004. The combine consists of series of drills, exercises, interviews, aptitude tests, and physical exams designed to assess the skills of promising college football players and to predict their performance in the NFL. Combine measures examined in this study include 10-, 20-, and 40-yard dashes, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 20- and 60-yard shuttles, three-cone drill, and the Wonderlic Personnel Test. Performance criteria include 10 variables: draft order; 3 years each of salary received and games played; and position-specific data. Using correlation analysis, we find no consistent statistical relationship between combine tests and professional football performance, with the notable exception of sprint tests for running backs. We put forth possible explanations for the general lack of statistical relations detected, and, consequently, we question the overall usefulness of the combine. We also offer suggestions for improving the prediction of success in the NFL, primarily the use of more rigorous psychological tests and the examination of collegiate performance as a job sample test. Finally, from a practical standpoint, the results of the study should encourage NFL team personnel to reevaluate the usefulness of the combine's physical tests and exercises as predictors of player performance. This study should encourage team personnel to consider the weighting and importance of various combine measures and the potential benefits of overhauling the combine process, with the goal of creating a more valid system for predicting player success.

Department of Management, College of Business, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

Address correspondence to Frank E. Kuzmits, kuzmits@louisville.edu.

© 2008 National Strength and Conditioning Association