NFL Combine: Correlating Combine Performance to Draft Positions

As we all remember, the 2010 NFL Draft didn't go quite as expected. Mel Kiper had Jonathan Dwyer as his #1 running back for almost a year before Dwyer hit a big fat wall at the Combine. Dwyer turned in an average 40 yard dash and appeared overweight and out of shape when he only racked up 15 reps on the bench. Anthony Allen was invited this year and From the Rumble Seat wants to see what Allen needs to do have a respectable chance of getting drafted.

First off, let's look at the trend of taking running backs in the Draft. The past five drafts have seen 17.6 running backs selected on averaging alongside 3.4 fullbacks (We're not sure if teams are looking at Allen as a fullback or running back yet since he played FB some in the Senior Bowl). Since 2008, the number of running backs selected has gone down. This may be attributed to the relatively short lifespan of running backs in the NFL. Considering CBS has Allen as the 22nd best running back in the Draft, Allen is gonna need a helluva Combine to crack into the top 15 RB's...

In 2010, 31 running backs were invited to the Combine. 12 of those 31 were drafted. The only non-Combine invitee to be drafted was Deji Karim from Southern Illinois. The average 40 time for Combine running backs who went undrafted was 4.63 seconds as opposed to the average drafted running back running a 4.52 second forty. That's a difference of 0.43 miles per hour.

The 225 pound bench press actually had a negative correlation to Draft performance. Undrafted Combine invitees benched one more rep on average than drafted Combine invitees in 2010. So hopefully Allen is working on speed not strength for the Combine.

Another indicator of Draft worthiness was the long jump. Drafted Combine running backs jumped on average 9 feet, 10 inches. This was almost 2 inches farther than undrafted running backs at the Combine.

Concerning participation versus watching the Combine from the sidelines, I'd advise Allen to try out the events. Even though Dwyer had a lousy performance he was still drafted. Brandon Minor, Matthew Asiata, Keiland Williams, and Rashawn Jackson either ran the 40 or did no events at all in the Combine and all of them went undrafted. All of the Drafted running backs in 2010 attempted at minimum the 40 yard dash plus two other events besides C.J. Spiller (because he dominated the 40) and Deji Karim (because he wasn't invited to the Combine). Not trying doesn't help an NFL aspiring running back.
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