In 1985, all 28 NFL teams agreed to attend the combine hosted by National Football Scouting Inc. After holding the combine in Florida, Louisiana and Arizona over the first few years, the combine debuted in Indianapolis in 1987.
The original goal of the combine was for teams to obtain medical information on top prospects. It has since evolved into a week-long event featuring multiple opportunities for medical tests, interviews and workouts.
Players are also given the Wonderlic Test, a written evaluation of a player's intelligence. The version of the test taken at the combine consists of 50 questions and lasts 12 minutes. Players are given one point for each question correctly answered. As of 2009, Pat McInally, a former punter and wide receiver from Harvard, is the only player with a confirmed score of 50.
Each prospect is also measured for height, weight, arm length and hand length, and undergoes the Cybex Test, a measurement of flexibility and joint movement. Players will also undergo a physical exam to determine any current injuries and injury history.
Bench Press - Players are tested on how many times they can bench press 225 pounds. The bench press, at a relatively low weight for NFL players, tests each player's strength and endurance. Bench press repetitions can range from 0 to 45. This drill is most important for offensive and defensive linemen and linebackers.
Vertical Jump - Participants stand flat-footed and reach their arms above their head. Once this measurement is taken, the player jumps as high as he can. The player's vertical leap is measured from the initial measurement, to the highest point of the participants jump. Vertical jumps typically range from 20 to 45. This drill tests a player's lower-body explosiveness. This drill is most important for wide receivers and defensive backs.
Broad Jump - Participants stand flat-footed and jump forward as far as possible. Broad jumps typical range from 6 to 11 feet. Like the vertical jump, this drill tests the participant's lower body explosiveness. This drill is most important for wide receivers and defensive backs.
3 Cone Drill - In this drill three cones are placed in an L-shape, each five yards apart. The participant starts at the base of the L and runs around the first cone towards the final cone. He then circles around the cone at the height of the L and back to the second cone and finishes where he started. This drill tests the participant's speed in short bursts, and their change-of-direction skill. This drill is equally important for all positions.
Shuttle Run - In this drill the participant starts in the center of two cones placed 10 yards apart. He sprints to his right and touches the first cone, then sprints back to the second, and finishes where he started in the center. This drill tests the participant's speed in short bursts, and their change-of-direction skill. This drill is equally important for all positions.