2023 NFL Combine Primer

Scott Martin


For most Dynasty fantasy football fans, the first week of March kicks off what is the “most wonderful time of the year.” It is time for the “Underwear Olympics!” The NFL Combine marks the start of the scouting season, and we get our first live look at this years upcoming class. This event is where sleepers with excellent measurables can vault their draft stock from undrafted to a solid round pick. The key to dynasty success is not only finding those deep sleepers and key undrafted free agents but “hitting” on your high round picks. This article presents an in-depth review of what an ideal prospect at each position should look like and help you answer the most important question… Do the measurables match the tape?

Does Size Matter?

The first question to answer is size… does it matter… YES! Sometimes, players with great college production and pedigree enter the league undersized or even oversized for their position and do great. However, this is often not the case and for most draft prospects entering the league undersized make early playing time and consistent production difficult. Let’s take a deeper dive into each position and find that perfect prospect!

Ideal Size: 6′ 4″ – 6′ 6″;  ≥ 220 lbs

  • Most top-level QBs are going to teams that don’t have an established line and need the frame to take punishment
  • There are exceptions to every rule, but if less than 6′ 0″ and not an exceptional athlete then their time in the league will likely be short-lived
  • Hand-size isn’t killer but typically bigger hands are always best; especially if going to a cold-weather team

Ideal Size: 5′ 8″ – 5′ 9″, 220 lbs

  • One size doesn’t fit all here
  • Smaller guys tend to be more scat backs in the NFL and taller guys (> 6’0″) tend to struggle at the position
  • Sometimes can get by with being < 220 lbs if smaller such as 5′ 8″
  • Ideally you want a 3-down RB and they need the frame and size to take the punishment of the position
  • Under 200 lbs is nearly un-draftable 

Ideal Size: 6’0″ – 6′ 1″, 200-210 lbs

  • The true WR 1 on a team is usually the mold of someone that can be split out or even flexed down into the slot at times (Justin Jefferson)
  • Those 6′ 4″ studly WRs like Calvin Johnson or even a DK Metcalf are very few and far between but if you can mix that size with other elite measurables then they can be special
  • 6′ 4″ is the cut off… more often than not players that are above this size are unable to create great separation, slow route runners and mostly just a red zone or occasional jump ball option
  • Not saying not to draft a 5’10” or 5′ 11″ player, it’s just they need to be an elite slot or make up for it in other areas to show consistent production (Ex. Jalen Reagor)
  • Weight is also SUPER important… very few players are able to stand up to press coverage or physical DBs if they are less than 200lbs
  • Yea there is always and exception to the rule (Ex. DeVonta Smith), but being below 200lbs at nearly any position is going to limit their likelihood of success

Ideal Size: 6’4″ – 6′ 6″, 250-270 lbs

  • Some thinner TEs can play more as a big slot and function as a WR in a TE role
  • Most need this size to get early production and opportunity to get on the field due to blocking ability
  • Very few TEs are worth taking a shot on if they are 6’2″ or less
Below you’ll find the major combine drills that are fantasy football relevant and are a harbinger to future success. With each drill you’ll see both the drill description, key dynasty points, and most importantly what all the numbers mean. We looked at every prospects data by position from 2008-2021 and calculated percentile (PCTL) rankings at each position. The biggest thing to identify are players with RED flags as these often times will be non-negotiable and remove players from your draft board. The RED flag number listed below is the 25th PCTL. An average number is the 50th PCTL. A good number is the 75th PCTL and an ELITE number is 90th PCTL. Let’s dive deep into the numbers and talk about which drills are improtant for each position. 

Combine Testing & Drills:

40-Yard Dash:

  • Start in a 3-point stance and then have timed splits at 10, 20, and 40 yds
  • 10 and 20-yd split – looking at initial burst off the line
  • Overall evaluation of top-end speed

Key Points:

  • RB: shows initial burst to handoff and home-run ability
  • WR: evaluates top-end speed to beat press
  • Important to match times to the tape; sometimes people look faster than they are and vice/versa

Bench Press:

  • 225 lbs and as many reps as you can do; test of the endurance of the player

Key Points:

  • RB: often foretells success in pass-blocking duties
  • WR: shows ability to shed press coverage 
  • TE: evaluates readiness to play early and ability to block
  • More important for lineman and defensive players

3-Cone Drill:

  • 3 cones set up in an L-shape; run to the first cone and back then run around the 2nd cone and weave/loop around the 3rd cone and then to the finish
  • Evaluates change of direction at high-speed

Key Points:

  • RB: excellent to evaluate cutting ability & elusiveness
  • WR: best drill to evaluate route running & separation

Vertical Jump:

  • Start flat-footed and measure up as far as you can reach and the difference between where you touch and where you jump is your vertical
  • Test of lower body explosion and power

Key Points:

  • RB: evaluates explosion & ability to gain YAC
  • WR: good indicator for ball skills & success with contested catch
  • TE: identifies PLUS ability in the redzone

Broad Jump:

  • Start in a balanced stand and jump out as far as you can 
  • Measurement is where you took off from to the back of the closest heel
  • Test of lower body explosion and power

Key Points:

  • RB: evaluates explosion & ability to gain YAC
  • WR/TE: evaluates explosion in/out of cuts and blocking ability in run game