Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Ryan Poles’ Track Record Says He Values These Combine Drills The Most


The Senior Bowl is done. Now, everybody awaits the last important pre-draft event of the new year. Teams will congregate down in Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine. This is where the largest concentration of top prospects gather to go through various athletic drills, meet with teams in short interviews, and work to showcase what they can be at the pro level. Ryan Poles has attended two of these events thus far. One thing has become clear. The Chicago Bears GM places great emphasis on it to help determine his eventual draft board.

After examining how his first two drafts unfolded, I gathered data to determine if specific drills during the event held greater importance based on each position. The results were interesting. Each position did seem to have one particular drill that was more important than others. Here is what I found.

Wide receivers: 40 times

  • Velus Jones – 4.31 seconds (1st-highest)
  • Tyler Scott – 4.44 seconds (7th-highest)

This is straightforward. Fast receivers often have an easier time creating separation in the passing game. The higher the 40 times, the faster they are.

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Offensive line: 40 times

  • Braxton Jones – 4.97 seconds (7th-highest)
  • Zachary Thomas – 4.96 seconds (6th-highest)
  • Doug Kramer – 4.97 seconds (3rd-highest)
  • Ja’Tyre Carter – 5.13 seconds (6th-highest)
  • Darnell Wright – 5.01 seconds (3rd-highest)

Technically, the 10-yard split is more important for an offensive lineman because it measures their lower body explosiveness. Still, the Bears offense requires its blockers to move well in space. A fast 40 time shows they can handle that.

Defensive line: Broad jump
  • Dominique Robinson – 121 inches (7th-highest)
  • Gervon Dexter – 110 inches (4th-highest)
  • Zacch Pickens – 116 inches (1st-highest)

Few things are more critical to a pass rusher, inside or outside, than a quick first step. The broad jump measures lower body strength and explosion. Byron Young, the Rams’ rookie 2nd round pick, had the second-highest broad jump at the 2023 combine and finished with eight sacks.

Cornerbacks: Vertical jump

  • Kyler Gordon – 42.5 inches (1st-highest)
  • Tyrique Stevenson – 38.5 inches (6th-highest)
  • Terell Smith – 34 inches (Outside top 10)

Speed is important for cornerbacks, obviously. However, the ability to close to the football or elevate in the air to knock a pass down is more important. That is why having a strong vertical jump is so important.

Safeties: Broad jump

  • Jaquan Brisker – 124 inches (5th-highest)
  • Elijah Hicks – N/A (Broken foot)
  • Kendall Williamson – 125 inches (6th-highest)

Safeties in the Bears’ defense often play downhill, meaning they must close quickly to make tackles or act as additional blitzers. For that to have maximum effectiveness, you need lower body explosion.

Ryan Poles wants athletes. That is why the combine matters.

Everybody knows the numbers rarely determine who will be the best players in the NFL. However, they do offer a good indication of who has the highest ceilings. Poles understands that. That is why he routinely targets players who perform well in certain drills. Everything is part of the process. Looking good on tape is vital. However, it is always essential for the metrics to back up what you see on the film. When both say the same thing, there is a good chance that player will end up being who you expect them to be.

If they also happen to crush the interview process, it’s a safe bet Ryan Poles will have them high on his board. Chicago heads into the off-season with clear needs at wide receiver, center, and pass rusher. That means fans should pay close attention to the 40-yard dashes and broad jump numbers for each. Anybody who finishes in the top five or six of each category should be circled as potential target for the Bears come April. We’ve already seen it unfold twice before. This time we can be prepared.


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Feb 18, 2024 7:11 pm

– I think we could add Brisker to that list if he doesn’t get and stay healthy.

Feb 18, 2024 6:49 pm

100%. That’s why Dexter, Pickens and Scott (among the others) are so important to Ryan Poles’ credibility as an NFL GM.

Dexter, Pickens and Velus Jones Jr. are the three “stretch picks” that Ryan Poles, for some reason, felt compelled to make (each about 1 round early).

If they hit this year; it changes everything at Halas Hall.

Here’s hoping.

Feb 18, 2024 6:13 pm

– that is a very good question. So far, the answer has been a mixed bag. We’ll have to see how year three goes.

Feb 18, 2024 10:16 am


But how many of them, can actually play football?

Slip Knotz
Slip Knotz
Feb 17, 2024 10:54 pm

I’m a big believer in the broad jump for NFL players. Vertical jump matters for certain positions. But another thing is you’ll find players real height and weight they lied about all through college. I don’t like players who skip all the evaluation processes. The Sr. Bowl matters. College film matters. Games against tough competition matter. But the specifics in the combine matter too, as millions of dollars are at stake. The passing routine can be very eye opening for example. When else will you see all of the best QB’s and best WR’s/TE’s from college pass with each other?… Read more »

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