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The Basics of Combine Prep (Final Part) by Neil Stratton from Inside the League


We wrap our week-long discussion of combine prep with some odds and ends.

Specialists: Punters, kickers and long-snappers may get timed in the 40, L Drill, short shuttle, etc., because they show up at a pro day and scouts may be afraid not to. However, their speed and agility are not central to their jobs. For that reason, typically they either (a) work out on their own at school or, in some cases, (b) go to specialized skills where they receive training from ex-NFL position coaches or former kickers. In either case, there is a lot less money typically spent on them because they make so much less and their jobs are usually so tenuous anyway, with lots of turnover.

Quarterbacks: Passers are on the other end of the spectrum. Usually, they demand at least one week of one-on-one training, especially if they are highly rated. The truly elite go through their own six-week regimen, sometimes at separate training facilities; in fact, the ‘celebrity quarterback trainer’ has become a cottage industry and a subset of the combine prep industry these days. The main thrust of these QB trainers has become setting up ‘the script.’ As pro days and the draft process have become more and more publicized and hype-filled, you’re starting to see top-rated quarterbacks’ pro days broadcast nationally. That’s where these trainers, which are half-promoter, half-guru, come in. They speak in sound bites for the camera, create buzz with scouts, then stand studiously behind their prodigies during a drill that has been practiced for weeks (and, of course, takes place without a pass rush). Afterwards, the guru brags about how his pupil only threw one incomplete pass, or none, or whatever.

Mostly hype: If it sounds like I’m poking fun at this process, I am (a little). I was talking to a veteran NFL and college QB coach about ex-Texas passer Chris Simms several years ago, and one of the things he said was that it takes about 10,000 throws, done correctly, to fix a flaw in a post-college passer that he won’t repeat when he’s under duress. That means it would take 500 straight days of training, at 200 throws per day, to see real results for a quarterback who side-arms the ball, has a hitch in his delivery, winds up before releasing the ball, or whatever. My point is that these high-level trainers are good for burnishing a few things, solidifying footwork, getting a passer to hold the ball higher, or helping them on the chalkboard, but they can’t change what a kid has been doing over his career in six weeks. At the end of the day, if you or your son is a quarterback, don’t worry too much if you don’t have the attention of one of the big-name specialists. There’s a lot of ‘show’ in their game anyway. No one’s going to turn a small-school backup into John Elway.

Inside The League ( is the consulting service for the football industry. We work with the contract advisors for about two-thirds of active NFL players as well as the combine trainers, financial planners, scouts, coaches and other pro league organizers that make up the game. Cost is $25/month, and you can cancel at any time. To register, click here.


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