03-28-2005, 08:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
how to tell if a player has power/explosion
How to measure power and explosion
By Pat Kirwan
NFL.com Senior Analyst
(March 24, 2005) -- The numbers are starting to pile up from the NFL Scouting Combine results, Pro Days and the private workouts, so it is understandable if you are starting to get the idea that the NFL draft process is paralysis by analysis. That's not completely the case, since the grading of game tapes is still the most critical issue in scouting draftees, but a lot can be predicted by studying the measurable numbers that are being compiled.
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Previously I discussed comparing the 40-yard dash times to the 20-yard short shuttle times so that there was a better understanding of quickness and change of direction vs. straight-line speed. Now I want to dive into another athletic dimension that has relevance, especially to defensive coaches: explosion and power. As one very successful defensive coordinator in the NFL said the other day on my Sirius Radio show, "We are always looking for explosive athletes who can deliver a blow, be great tacklers and meet force with greater force."
It is amazing what can be done with athletes that have rare measurables in this area if they are also good football players. Some test results are best when the number is low, like the 40-yard dash, the 20-yard short shuttle and the three-cone drill. There are other tests when the result is higher the score is better and those tests can tell us lots about explosiveness and power. The vertical leap, standing broad jump and the bench press are measurables where more is better.
I don't like to isolate one test score because it is too limited, but an overall score can tell us something about the athlete. One way I filter through all the eligible draft picks is to find the players that have a combined result of 70 or higher when I combine the vertical leap, standing broad jump and bench press test. As an illustration, if an athlete had a 40-inch vertical leap, a 10-foot standing broad jump and 20 reps on the 225-pound bench press test, he would have a combined score of 70. Those who know something about jumping, leaping and throwing weight around can see that 70 is an excellent combined score.
There is no reason to look to the results of athletes who do not have a high draft grade because, for the most part, they have already indicated they aren't good enough football players on the field. After filtering them out, I went looking for those prospects with a good playing grade and a score over 70.
I then filter out the weight-room guys who have 40 reps on the bench and an 18-inch vertical and a 7-foot broad jump. There's a place for a strong guy in a weight room, but he's not the guy most defensive coaches is looking for. Along the same line of thinking, a basketball-type player with a 42-inch vertical leap and an 11-foot broad jump but just nine reps on the bench also falls out -- he can't deliver a blow when he gets there. There's a place for the guy with springs in his legs, but he's not complete either.
Here are the defensive players with very good football grades who also got to the magic number of 70 used to sort out the best of the best in the area of explosive/powerful athletes. These guys can get there and bring it.
NAME SCHOOL POS. VERTICAL LEAP BROAD JUMP BENCH PRESS TOTAL
Luis Castillo Northwestern DT 34ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½ 10-foot-10 32 77
Shawne Merriman Maryland DE/LB 40 10-foot-1 25 75
Demarcus Ware Troy State DE/LB 38ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½ 10-foot-2 27 75
Derek Wake Penn State LB 45ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½ 10-foot-10 20 75
Darryl Blackstock Virginia Tech LB 39 10-foot-6 25 74
David Pollack Georgia DE/LB 37 10-foot 25 72
Bryant McFadden Florida State CB 38ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½ 10-foot-10 23 72
Justin Tuck Notre Dame DE/LB 38ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½ 9-foot-10 24 72
Fabian Washington Nebraska CB 41ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½ 10-foot-9 18 70
NOTE: A few defensive athletes have not completed their testing and I will update this list a week before the draft. The results are rounded off.
As you can see, a score of 70 or better is tough to get, but if a team factors in explosiveness, then this can be very important to them. Derek Ware from Penn State doesn't have the playing grade that Merriman, Pollack or Blackstock have, but he may be worth a higher draft pick than originally anticipated because he can explode and move like a guy many defensive coaches are looking for.
Derek Wake's combined power numbers should turn some heads.
There are a number of athletes who just missed the 70 mark that warrant mention, including several defensive backs: Barrett Rudd, LB, Nebraska (69); Justin Miller, CB, Clemson (67); Kevin Burnett, LB, Tennessee (67); Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn (66); Dominique Foxworth, CB, Maryland (65).
Finally, it is important for the personnel people to pay attention to what type of players the coaches are looking and it is important for the coaches to pay attention to the type of athletes the scouts have found. There should be no arguments when a good defensive football player comes back with a score of 70-plus on my grading sheet. I used to send the coaches a list of all the former draft picks around the NFL who had a score of 70 or higher and that usually got their attention.
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