Quarterback Combine Testing
The NFL Scouting Combine is a series of tests and interviews of prospective new NFL players. The players are essentially all put through the same physical tests, irrespective of their playing position. However, not all the fitness tests of the combine are relevant for a quarterback, a highly specialized and very demanding position on the field requiring unique talents, both mentally and physically.
To address this the lack of specific quarterback testing, in 2011 the crew at the ESPN's Sport Science show created a quarterback combine to put some of the top prospects in that year's draft to the test, to determine whether they possess the physical and mental skills required for a quarterback in the NFL.
Below are the details of the test, the only ones the same as in the official NFL draft are some of the physical measurements and the vertical jump.
The QB Tests
- Physical measurements - Each prospect had physical measurements such as height, weight, arm length, and hand length
- Vertical jump — A test of leg explosion and power. The player jumps off both feet straight up as high as he can.
- Mind Games - The quarterback requires intelligence to understand complex defenses and game situations. In this test the quarterback was given the simple physical challenge of waving his hand in front of a light, while simultaneously answering a variety of football-related questions. His reaction time to both the light and the questions, and the number of correct answers, were evaluated.
- Voice Test - Cutting edge voice analysis was used to evaluate the quarterback's ability to project during cadence and snap count while instilling calm and confidence within his team.
- Acceleration Test - Testing speed and explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. The standard combine test for this is the 40-yard dash with split measurements at 10 and 20 yards. However, in this test sensors were set up every few yards to determine at exactly what point in a run the quarterback reaches his maximum speed.
- Mechanics Test - In this test the quarterback aimed at one of three sporadically illuminating rings. This drill tests the basics: reaction time, release time, arm speed and accuracy. The quarterback wore an eye-tracker so his reaction time could be calculated down to the second.
- Touch Test - In this test, the quarterback had to feather a pass over two rushing defenders into a basket 20 yards away. Accuracy, trajectory and velocity were assessed.
- Ultimate QB Test - This drill was created to put all of a quarterback's skills on the line. After being wired up with FAB (Functional Assessment of Biomechanics) sensors, the quarterback had to drop back into a circle of infrared timing gates, each lighting up randomly. As the rusher approached him, the virtual pocket collapsed, and the timing gates illuminated to indicate which direction he had to scramble to safety. Once clear of the pocket, he was tasked with throwing a pass through a moving target.
- ESPN TV Show: Sport Science: The QB Combine on April 14 at 7 p.m. ET. 2011
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