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It’s been over two weeks since Super Bowl LIV was played, and football gamblers who are ready for hot offseason action are looking towards next week’s NFL combine to supply it.
Starting Sunday, February 23 and running through Monday, March 2 the world’s best college football athletes will be flaunting their high-level skills at the NFL Combine, the yearly event in Indianapolis, IN where potential NFL talent is spotted and the seeds of future millionaires are planted.
For those fond of placing wagers, there are five major events that have proposition, or prop bets associated with them, and here we take a look (including the odds) and list some of the athletes who are all-time best in each of those events.
And if you’re in for more NFL combine prop bets, have a look at our video best prop bets video.
In a nutshell, it’s a yearly event held at the end of every February in Indianapolis, Indiana at Lucas Oil Stadium (formerly known as the RCA Dome until 2008) where college football players perform physical and mental tests in front of NFL coaches, GMs and scouts.
NFL teams use the draft to bolster their upcoming rosters, so the Combine is held before the draft to give the decision-makers a chance to see more of what potential draft picks can do and get to meet with some to determine their football IQ and general attitude.
Prior to 1982, NFL teams would have to schedule individual meetings for this to happen, but then Tex Schramm, the president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1989, suggested the league centralize the evaluation process to make it easier on everyone.
It started as the National Invitation Camp (NIC) in 1982 and then was named the NFL Scouting Combine in 1985 once the various scouting camps agreed to merge.
Not at first, for at least two reasons.
Media and cameras were historically prohibited from the event, and even if they weren’t, there was not a lot of network television interest in airing the event, including by ESPN.
The NFL combine was first shown on TV in 2004 after the launch of the NFL Network the previous year, and they aired six installments of one-hour shows to recap the day’s events.
Since then, the NFL Network has exclusive access to the NFL Combine, while its main competitor ESPN does not.
The average number of athletes invited to the NFL Combine each year is 330.
To receive an invitation, athletes must receive what’s called ‘supermajority’ support from the selection committee.
Regardless, there are always a few standout athletes who get snubbed and it makes the news, though of course those players can still be brought in for individual skill tests and be drafted.
Every season, football experts are quick to point out which deserving college football players were snubbed and in 2020, the name that keeps popping up is Utah State quarterback Tyler Huntley.
It’s important to remember that despite being snubbed for the combine, Huntley can still be drafted into the NFL.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Huntley is said to play the quarterback position in the same style as Lamar Jackson, the man under center in Baltimore who took his Ravens to the playoffs his first two years in the league.
Huntley does not (yet) have the elite athleticism or throwing arm of Jackson, but he could be a solid 7th round pick for any team in the AFC North not named “The Ravens” that needs his style of quarterbacking to practice against twice per regular season.
That’s debatable, and which side of that debate you land on depends on whether you believe a player’s evaluation numbers can forecast their ability to succeed at the NFL level.
Some argue it’s ridiculous to make players do certain tests, like run the 40-yard dash, since it is unlikely an NFL player will be asked to do that in any game.
But for most athletes, it’s a chance to compete and show skills in front of the decision-makers, so it’s the most important event of their post-college football career until the NFL draft begins in April.
Yes, there have been some famous dud NFL Combine performances by athletes who turned into stars, here are three of the more famous ones:
It’s a simple sprint covering 40 yards (36.58 m) used to evaluate acceleration and speed.
The men’s world record time for the 40, as it’s called, is held by professional track and field sprinter Christian Coleman, who ran it in 4.12 seconds in 2017.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross recorded the fastest all-time NFL Combine 40, running it in 4.22 seconds in 2017.
From a standstill, players jump to see how high they can elevate off the ground.
Canadian Evan Ungar set the record for the highest vertical jump in the world on May 13, 2016, by jumping 63.5 inches with a representative from the Guinness book of world records present.
The all-time vertical jump record at the NFL Combine was set by safety Gerald Sensabaugh in 2005, who went on to be drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fifth round.
The broad jump, also known as the standing long jump, was an Olympic event until 1912 and involves standing at a line and then taking off and landing on both feet, swinging arms and bending knees to provide forward drive.
The current world record holder is Byron Jones, who recorded a jump of 12-feet, 2 ¾-inches (3.73 m) at the NFL Combine on February 23, 2015.
Jones beat out the previous record set by shot putter Arne Tvervaag by ¾ of an inch.
The bench press event is used to test strength and stamina.
Each athlete benches 225 pounds (102 kg) as many times as possible, each press considered a repetition or rep.
Over the last two decades, only eighteen players have totaled over 40 reps, and Justin Ernest has the most with 51, which he did at the 1999 Combine, though Ernest never played in the NFL.
The 60-yard shuttle measures a player’s anaerobic speed endurance by having him run 15 yards to one side, then back 30 yards and then 15 yards back to the starting point.
In the history of the NFL Combine, the fastest 60-yard shuttle time was set by wide receiver Shelton Gibson in 2017, who did it in 10.71 seconds.
Gibson’s record narrowly held last season when defensive back Avonte Maddox ran it just .01 second slower, clocking a 10.72 time and tying wide receiver Brandin Cooks for second place, who prior to Gibson’s time, held the record since 2014.
Never gamble what you don’t have, of course, but it might be fun to use some of your betting-kitty on a few of these props.
One of the television hosts of the NFL Combine, Rich Eisen, does something towards the end of the combine that’s become a sweet (and kinda funny) tradition.
The now 49-year-old NFL Network sportscaster laces up his track shoes and runs the 40-yard dash, and his time is so slow that the network likes to have fun and superimpose the fastest runs over his just so viewers at home can see the incredible difference.
Eisen doesn’t do it to purposely embarrass himself or for the ratings, but to raise money in support of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and throughout the combine telecast, he interviews some of the kids and has a lot of fun with them.
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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