2. Mayo Clinic Arizona Department of Orthopedics, Phoenix, AZ, USA.
3. Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.
Background: The National Football League (NFL) combine has been found to play a significant role in NFL draft decisions. Previous studies have demonstrated correlations between a player’s combine metrics and draft position and performance, but no study has investigated the purposes of our study, the relationship between these combine tests and NFL career longevity.
Methods: A retrospective review of combine test results from all offensive players participating in the NFL combine from 2005-2015 was completed. Tests included height, weight, BMI, 10-, 20-, 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, short shuttle, and 3-cone. Career length was determined by online review of NFL rosters from 2005-2017. Statistical analysis using logistic regression was completed to determine the association of each player’s original (O) and normalized (N) combine test results with career longevity.
Results: Quarterbacks on an NFL roster at year five were 0.75 inches taller than quarterbacks not on a roster (p<0.05). There was an association between 10-yard (RB: p<0.05; WR: p<0.05), 20-yard (RB: p<0.05; WR: p<0.05) and 40-yard (RB: p<0.05; WR: p<0.05) dash times, as well as broad jump (RB: p<0.05; WR: p<0.05), for running backs (RB) and wide receivers (WR) on a roster at 5-years. Tight ends on a roster at 5-years were found to have performed significantly better in the vertical jump (p<0.05) and broad jump (p<0.05), while also having greater body weight (p<0.05) than those not on a roster. Vertical jump (p<0.05), broad jump (p<0.05) and 40-yard dash (p<0.05) were found to be associated with offensive lineman on an NFL roster at 5-years.
Conclusion: The combine has been used by NFL teams to gather objective data about player’s athleticism, and this study shows the specific drills and corresponding traits that are related to longer careers for each position. This study found associations between traits that are reflected by the tests performed at the NFL combine and career longevity. The findings of this study may serve as an additional resource for teams to assist in the assessment of a player’s potential career longevity based on their individual combine results.
Keywords: NFL combine, performance, career longevity, athleticism, injury rehabilitation