Prior to the mid-80s there wasn't an NFL Scouting Combine. At least as we know it today. The National Invitation Camp, born after Dallas Cowboys president and general manager Tex Schramm proposed a centralized scouting event in the early 80s, was held in 1982 that featured scouts and teams that were members of the NIC. Other camps were created for non-member teams, establishing at least three scouting events around the country during the predraft process. Eventually they were combined to create the NFL Scouting Combine in 1985 which moved from areas along the south to Indianapolis in 1987.
That was then. This is now.
NFL prospects will arrive in Indianapolis this week for every team to poke, prod and interview. Kids stand in front the world wearing only their skivvies for scouts to critique their physique and then witness as the prospect is weighed. Interviews from teams ask personal questions that most scouts and general managers know the answer to.
Eventually the process takes to the field where players conduct a series of drills that could literally break a prospect's first-round chances -- and alternatively raise a prospect's stature that wasn't in the first-round picture last week.
One of the events is the more straight-forward bench press. Players rack up 225 pounds and pump out as many repetitions as possible. Scouts aren't looking for just strength, as much as they are endurance, as well as a commitment to the weight room over the span of their college careers. Only 13 players have slung up 225 pounds 40 times or more, led by Justin Ernest's record 51 in 1999.
But a caution for those that weigh more during the NFL Combine than actual game tape. Ernest, out of Eastern Kentucky, wasn't drafted at all whereas Bengals offensive tackle Andre Smith pumped out only 19 reps and now he's one of the league's better right tackles.
Other events includes the 40-yard dash which is actually a series of sprints timed from the 10, 20 and 40-yard lines. The vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill are self-explanatory and the shuttle-run which tests the prospect's lateral movement.