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Bet on the NFLEvery year, the NFL Combine is held for a week in February at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is designed to give college athletes intent on playing in the NFL an opportunity to showcase their strength, speed, and power. Nearly 300 players were invited to participate this year, and now that it is over, the real work of evaluating the athletes begins for the 32 football organizations that make up the NFL.

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The 2011 NFL Scouting Combine involves a number of tests of physical ability, from the 40-yard dash, to the 225-lb bench press rep test, to the vertical jump, to the 3 cone drill. Many athletes look forward to the Combine as their single greatest chance to showcase their physicality off of the football field. Game tape means little when it comes to success at the Combine.

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But the fact that actual game performance is not a factor at all at the Combine leads one to wonder, “Does the NFL Scouting Combine matter?” Will the pro football teams really be swayed by huge bench press numbers or a lightning-fast 40-yard dash timed by a computer? Or does game tape matter more than any results from the Combine?

Many athletes and observers tend to downplay the importance of the Combine, but it is also apparent that having a great showing there can vastly improve an athlete's chances of being noticed by a pro team. Even if the season videotapes show less promise, a physically talented athlete can be developed and trained by a pro team if his Combine numbers are impressive enough.

In fact, nearly every year a player is drafted much earlier than expected based on his college playing numbers. And the reason for the early draft is an amazing performance at the Combine. Surprising performances usually come in one of the two main tests, the 4-yard dash or the 225-lb bench press for reps. While a whole lot of stock should not be placed in the Combine, it is a good chance to measure the talents of the players who participated.


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