16 new drills coming to NFL Scouting Combine

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The NFL Scouting Combine's shift to prime time isn't the only major change we'll see in Indianapolis during the week.

Some of the on-field action is going to look different, too.

There will be 16 new drills introduced to the position-specific workouts and 10 existing drills eliminated as a result of the changes. Defensive backs will see the most changes, with more than 50 percent of their combine workout featuring new tests.

Each new drill is explained by position group below.

Quarterbacks


NEW: End zone fade routes added to routes thrown, timed smoke/now route drill

End zone fade: Quarterbacks will throw passes to receivers running 10-yard fade routes to the right side of the end zone, creating a need for the use of pylons in these drills. The route addition is intended to mimic a popular pass attempt seen inside the red zone, typically attempted from a snap taken close to the goal line with the target being the back corner pylon.

Timed smoke/now route drill: Quarterbacks will throw one pass to a receiver running a smoke/now route -- usually a route that is adjusted to at the line based on pre-snap reads indicating a quick completion will be available against soft coverage -- on each side consecutively.

Running backs


NEW: Duce Staley drill; Inside routes with change of direction added to routes run

Duce Staley drill: Named after the former Eagles running back and current assistant coach, the drill will involve a running back lining up behind a horizontal step-over bag that is part of three bags laid to form a cross. The running back will step over the bag in front of him, then laterally over the perpendicular bag, then backward over the other horizontal bag before repeating the path in the opposite direction. Coaches lined up eight yards away holding pop-up dummies will move in coordinated fashion, creating a hole for the running back to identify before exploding through it. The drill is designed to display a running back's ability to use his eyes while navigating physical obstacles as a ballcarrier might perform while running an inside zone play, which doesn't create a defined target for the running back, but instead the possibility for a number of options to run through.

Inside routes with change of direction: As angle (or Texas) routes become more common in the passing game with running backs used as receivers increasingly often, this drill will measure a running back's ability to run such a route and catch a pass successfully while fighting against his own momentum.

ELIMINATED: Pitch and cone drill, find the ball drill

Receivers


NEW: End zone fade route

End zone fade: Quarterbacks will throw passes to receivers running 10-yard fade routes to the right side of the end zone, creating a need for the use of pylons in these drills. The route addition is intended to mimic a popular pass attempt seen inside the red zone, typically attempted from a snap taken close to the goal line with the target being the back corner pylon. For receivers, this will display how well they can locate and track the ball before making the catch and keeping both feet in bounds in a tight area.

ELIMINATED: Toe tap drill

Tight ends


NEW: End zone fade route

End zone fade: Quarterbacks will throw passes to receivers running 10-yard fade routes to the right side of the end zone, creating a need for the use of pylons in these drills. The route addition is intended to mimic a popular pass attempt seen inside the red zone, typically attempted from a snap taken close to the goal line with the target being the back corner pylon. As is the case for receivers, this will measure how well tight ends can locate and track the ball before making the catch and keeping both feet in bounds in a tight area.

ELIMINATED: Toe tap drill

Offensive line


NEW: New mirror drill, new screen drill

New mirror: Player lines up at set point between middle of two cones roughly six yards apart and slides laterally left and right based on coach's direction. Drill places emphasis on feet and change of direction ability of player with at least four movements to right and left.

New screen: Player will set in pass protection position, then release and sprint toward first coach holding blocking shield 15 yards wide of starting point to simulate engage and release action of a screening lineman. If the first coach steps upfield, player must adjust direction and advance to second coach, at whom he will break down and engage. If first coach remains stationary, player will break down and engage him (and will not advance to second coach).

Miscellaneous: Pull drills will include engaging a one-man sled instead of a bag. Inclusion of "rabbit" is eliminated in pass rush drops and pass pro mirror drill, with a coach's hand motion changing direction of lateral slide in latter drill.

Defensive line


NEW: Run and club drill, run the hoop drill

Run and club: Five stand-up bags are in a vertical line, five yards apart, with the final bag including "arms". The defender will fire out of a three-point stance and run through the bags, clubbing the first with his right arm, spinning on the second bag, clubbing the third bag with his left arm, ripping through the fourth bag and flattening downhill to slap bag with arms to simulate a strip.

Run the hoop: Two pass-rush hoops are laid on the ground two yards apart, forming a figure eight. Two towels are inside the hoops, one in each. The player lines up at a start cone (to right of hoops) in a three-point stance, fires off at movement of a ball on a stick (simulating snap), runs around the first hoop, picks up the towel with his left hand, crosses to the second hoop and drops the towel, continues around the second hoop, picks up the towel with the right hand and crosses back to the first hoop and drops the towel before finishing through the start cone.

ELIMINATED: Stack and shed drill

Linebackers


NEW: Shuffle, sprint, change of direction drill; short zone breaks drill

Shuffle, sprint, change of direction: In a measure of a player's quickness and agility, the defender will start in a two-point stance five to seven yards outside the hash before shuffling across the field. He'll then open his hips and sprint on the coach's command, then change direction on command and finish with a catch of a thrown football.

Short zone breaks: Three different route reactions are involved here. First, the player drops at a 45-degree angle, flattens out at five yards and breaks forward (simulating breaking on a short out) before catching a ball. Then, the player drops at a 45-degree angle, flattens at five yards again and breaks inside (simulating breaking on an underneath route) and catches the ball. Finally, the player takes a flat drop and reacts to a coach's signal to turn and run with a wheel route before catching a ball.

ELIMINATED: Pass drop

Defensive backs


NEW: Line drill, Teryl Austin drill, box drill, gauntlet drill

Line: This one will look familiar. Players will back pedal, open their hips at the direction of the coach, return to back pedaling, then open the hips again on command, the catch ball being thrown from opposite location of coach.

Teryl Austin: The drill named after the Steelers secondary coach includes two parts. First, a player will back pedal five yards, then open and break downhill on a 45 degree angle before catching a thrown ball. Then a player will back pedal five yards, open at 90 degrees and run to the first coach and break down, then plant and turn around (180 degrees) to run toward a second coach and catch a ball from thrown by a QB before reaching the second coach.

Box: The player will back pedal five yards and then break at a 45 degree angle on the coach's signal. Once he reaches the cone, the player will plant, open his hips and run back five yards with his eyes on the coach. On the coach's signal, the player will break toward a coach at a 45 degree angle and catch a thrown ball.

Gauntlet: This one is essentially the same drill run by receivers. A player will start with two stationary catches with each made in opposite directions before sprinting across the 35-yard line catching balls from throwers alternating between each side. The drill will be timed from the second stationary catch to when the defensive back reaches a cone 10 yards upfield from the final catch. The player will also perform in a second time in the opposite direction.

ELIMINATED: Close and speed turn, pedal and hip turn

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