KM Media Group Journalist Alex Hoad is attending the NFL Regional Combine, here he explains some of the skills he'll need to make the right impression
In three weeks time I’ll step onto the artificial turf of the New York Jets training facility, ready to take part in a series of tests and drills of physical capability.
The results of these tests will help NFL officials decide whether I am one of the 240 participants in the league’s New York City Regional Combine that they want to see again.
Over the six weeks leading up to my date with my pro-sporting destiny, I’m telling you all about the sport of American football and its presence in Kent, and I’ll be providing fitness, training and nutrition tips which have helped me prepare for my big day on Saturday, February 15.
Remember last week I told you about the rules of the sport and the various positions on the field? Remember how we all laughed when I revealed the position for which I’m trying out is named Tight End? Well the fun’s over, let’s get technical.
In weeks to come I’ll show you how to get conditioned for some of the eight tests I will have to do, with a little help from some expert friends, but for now I’ll tell you about the five drills I will face.
According to the Pro Football Weekly guide to prototypical NFL players, issued before the draft each spring, a prototypical NFL Tight End is 6’3” tall, weighs 250lbs, is of above average intelligence, can run the 40-yard dash in 4.85secs, has a 32inch arm length and hands than span 9.5inches.
I’m an inch taller, umm maybe 10 or so pounds heavier, I’m hopefully in the right ball-park when it comes to sprinting, arms are an inch longer and I have 10” hands. I’ll leave the intelligence one hanging....
As for characteristics of a Tight End, PFW says we have intelligence, soft hands, should be able to continue running after making the catch, block, and run routes.
Well, hopefully my hands have been softened sufficiently from 20 years as a goalkeeper, it’s fair to say I can lumber on for a little while after a grab, my blocking needs some work, but that’ll come with practice, all ok so far, and then we have the routes...
In American football it’s pronounced rout and it basically means the path that an attacking player runs during a play. The quarterback throws to the receiver - often as many as four of whom will be running routes during a play - that he considers is in the best position to catch the ball and keep on running.
At the Regional Combine, coaches will test my ability to run five different routes - arrow, basic, corner, wheel and seam. Each has a required distance and direction to go before ‘cutting’ in another direction as tightly as possible to fool the defence.
Those routes are all short, explosive routes over 10 or 15 yards and on the day there will not be a ball or a QB involved. Being quick as possible and in the exact right spot at the exact right time are the order of the day.
However there will also be a separate ‘over the shoulder’ drill where I’ll have to sprint 20 yards+ downfield before catching a high ball thrown by an NFL-hopeful QB stood behind me. I'll have to try and catch it in stride while on the run.
There is also a sideline tap drill where I have to dive to catch a pass and tap both feet on the ground inbounds before they cross the touchline.
Those drills, designed to test my potential as a receiver, will only be attempted by my fellow Tight Ends and Wide Receivers, but two more drills will be attempted by all 240 of us.
The Short Shuttle drill involves sprinting only 20 yards, but incorporating two complete 180 degree changes of direction. If I can cover those 20 yards in under 4.5 seconds I’ll be doing well.
The Three Cone drill is similar, I have to run a 30-yard route between three cones spaced in an L shape, changing direction four times. Anything in the region of seven seconds for this and I’m golden.
As with any sporting move, practice makes perfect, so I'll be down at my local park, running as many of these routes as I can fit in over the next three weeks.
With all these drills, plus the jumps and sprints I'll need to perform on the day, you need strength, fitness and stamina. More on that next week.
American football is coming to Ashford for the first time in five years on Sunday.
The BAFA National League Premiership South side East Kent Mavericks will host a rookie day for potential new players aged 14-and-over at Pitchside on Stanhope Road.
Newcomers can register for the free session from 11am with training from 11.30am until around 1.30pm.
Coach Glenn Lindley said “We haven’t recruited in Ashford for the last five years, but currently have eight players from the area so it makes sense for us to try and recruit locally to see if there is further interest.
“We already have a lot of interest and are expecting plenty of new faces, but the more the better.”
For more information email email@example.com or call Glenn Lindley on 07725 696949 or visit www.ekmavericks.co.uk
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