Smith, Texans looking for measurables at combine


Each February, hundreds of elite college football players are invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where they get a chance to impress general managers, coaches and scouts by excelling in a series of measurable drills.

Emerging as the top performer in any of the drills can mean the difference between going in the first or second round of the NFL draft. Last year, East Carolina product Chris Johnson finished first in the 40-yard dash with a 4.24, a time that helped convince the Tennessee Titans to draft the running back with the 24th overall selection.

{QUOTE}For the Texans, this year's event will center on evaluating defensive prospects. General manager Rick Smith has said the team is looking for fast, athletic players who can wreak havoc on the field.

"It's a good group of available draft players coming out this year," Smith said. "And certainly, you look at one position in particular, the linebackers. There are a number of excellent linebackers, whether you're talking about inside or outside linebackers. There's a really deep safety group." will be in Indy this week to provide in-depth analysis of key draft prospects and break down their combine performances. Here is a rundown of the measurable drills tested at the combine:

40-yard dash
The 40-yard dash is the most hyped event at the Indy Combine. The players are timed at 10-, 20- and 40-yard intervals. Talent evaluators use the dash to assess a player's explosion from a stationary start and flat-line speed.

Bench press
The bench press is a test of strength, endurance and preparedness. Each player lifts 225 pounds for as many reps as possible.

Vertical jumpThe vertical jump measures a player's lower-body explosion and leaping ability. The jump is the differential between the player's reach and the marker he touches at the top of his jump.

Broad jump
In the broad jump, a player stands and jumps forward as far as he can. This jump measures his lower-body explosion, lower-body strength and balance.

3-cone drill
Three cones are lined up in an L-shape for a player to run around, testing his ability to change directions at a high speed.

Shuttle run
In the shuttle run, an athlete starts in a three-point stance and sprints five yards to the right, touches a line, runs 10 yards to the left, touches a line, pivots and runs five yards to the finish line. The shuttle tests a player's lateral speed and change of direction.

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