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The National Football League (NFL) Combine: Does Normalized Data Better Predict Performance in the NFL Draft?

Robbins, Daniel W

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: November 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 11 - p 2888-2899
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181f927cc
Original Research

Robbins, DW. The NFL combine: does normalized data better predict performance in the NFL draft? J Strength Cond Res 24(11): 2888-2899, 2010-The objective of this study was to investigate the predictive ability of National Football League (NFL) combine physical test data to predict draft order over the years 2005-2009. The NFL combine provides a setting in which NFL personnel can evaluate top draft prospects. The predictive ability of combine data in its raw form and when normalized in both a ratio and allometric manner was examined for 17 positions. Data from 8 combine physical performance tests were correlated with draft order to determine the direction and strength of relationship between the various combine measures and draft order. Players invited to the combine and subsequently drafted in the same year (n = 1,155) were included in the study. The primary finding was that performance in the combine physical test battery, whether normalized or not, has little association with draft success. In terms of predicting draft order from outcomes of the 8 tests making up the combine battery, normalized data provided no advantage over raw data. Of the 8 performance measures investigated, straight sprint time and jumping ability seem to hold the most weight with NFL personnel responsible for draft decisions. The NFL should consider revising the combine test battery to reflect the physical characteristics it deems important. It may be that NFL teams are more interested in attributes other than the purely physical traits reflected in the combine test battery. Players with aspirations of entering the NFL may be well advised to develop mental and technical skills in addition to developing the physical characteristics necessary to optimize performance.

Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Physiotherapy, University of Sydney, Lidcombe, Australia

Address correspondence to Daniel Robbins,

© 2010 National Strength and Conditioning Association