The entire NFL world will gather in Indianapolis beginning on Tuesday for the annual NFL scouting combine, the first official step toward the 2018 NFL draft. More than 300 players have been invited to be poked, prodded and probed by coaches, GMs, scouts, doctors and executives from every NFL team.
And yes, despite all the film of all these players, what happens over the next week could absolutely affect the draft.
So knowing how important this annual meat market is, here's a closer look at the drills and evaluations each player will go through as they are shuttled from Lucas Oil Stadium to the Indiana Convention Center to local hospitals and various meeting rooms in hotels. It's a long, arduous process that most players have been preparing for since their last college game:
(Note: The NFL has only officially kept records on combine drills since 2006, though there are some reported results from before that.)
This remains the most outdated, over-hyped and -- as some scouts would say -- the most dangerous drill at the combine. It's "dangerous" because a fast (or slow) 40 time could make scouts forget what a player actually did on the field. Also, receivers in particular spend so much time training for this, it becomes a shock to their system when they return to actual football drills after the draft -- and some believe that's why so many end up with leg-muscle pulls early in their career.
Regardless, it remains the "money" drill for receivers, defensive backs, running backs and in some cases pass rushers. A tenth-of-a-second could mean the difference in draft round, and perhaps millions of dollars for some of the top players. Scouts don't just watch the 40-time either. They measure the 10-yard and 20-yard splits to chart "explosion" and "separation speed".
Combine record: Officially, it belongs to WR John Ross, last year's No. 9 pick (by the Bengals) who ran it in 4.22 seconds. But electronic timing didn't begin until 1999, and legend has it Bo Jackson ran a 4.1 way back in 1986.
The ultimate test of strength and endurance, players must bench 225 pounds as many times as they can, with a trainer barking orders and keeping a careful eye on form. It's an important test for linemen who use their upper-body strength on every play.
Combine record: DT Stephen Pea pumped out 49 reps in 2011 for the official record and was drafted in the second round (53rd overall) by the Bears. Justin Ernest, out of Eastern Kentucky, reportedly did 51 reps in 1999, but went undrafted and never played in the NFL.
A measure of leaping ability and general lower body strength. A player is first measured standing still and reaching up. Then he leaps and touches the highest mark that he can reach. The difference is his "vertical leap." The leaping part is important for receivers and defensive backs, but lower body strength is a factor for running backs and even linemen, too.
Combine record: Officially, it's a tie between WR Chris Conley in 2015 and CB Donald Washington in 2009. Both reached 45 inches. Conley went in the third round to Kansas City and Washington went to the Chiefs in the fourth. Before that, safety Gerald Sensabaugh reportedly hit 46 inches in 2005 and became a Jaguars fifth-round pick.
It's done just like the long jump in the Olympics, where players take a running start and take off when they reach the white line. It's about lower body strength, body control and balance.
Combine record: UConn safety Byron Jones jumped his way into the first round (Dallas, 27th overall) in 2015 with an astounding leap of 12 feet, 3 inches. It wasn't just a combine record; it is a world record.
It's a strange-looking drill that measures agility and the ability to change directions at high speed, which is very important for receivers, running backs and cornerbacks. For the drill, three cones are set up five yards apart from each other in the shape of an 'L'. A player starts at one cone, runs to a second and then back, then turns and runs to the second cone, weaves around the third and heads back to the start again.
Combine record: WR Jeff Maehl completed the drill in 6.42 seconds in 2011, but went undrafted. He eventually signed with the Houston Texans.
20-yard shuttle drill
Another agility drill, this one focuses on lateral quickness and quick-stop ability, both of which are key for skill-position players. A player stands between two cones placed 10 yards apart. He then runs to one cone, turns and runs to the other, turns and comes back to the starting point in the middle.
Combine record: CB Jason Allen (2006) and WR Brandin Cooks (2014) both did it in 3.81 seconds and both were first-round picks. Allen went to Miami 16th overall, and Cooks went to New Orleans 20th overall. But Kevin Kasper, a former walk-on at Iowa, is believed to have the actual record of 3.73 seconds back in 2001. He was a sixth-round pick of the Broncos that year.
This drill for non-linemen is a shortened form of the "suicide" runs in basketball (or in hockey on skates). Three cones are set up five yards apart, but the player runs straight to the first cone at the 5-yard mark and then returns to the start. Then he turns and runs to the 10-yard cone and back, and then to the 15-yard cone and back.
Combine record: WR Shelton Gibson set the record last year in 10.71 seconds in 2017, a full .01 ahead of Cooks three years earlier. Gibson was a fifth-round pick of the Eagles.