Articles & Features
Combine Forecast- High School Athletics as a Predictor of NFL Combine Performance
Photo: CJ Stroud take instruction during Day 1 of the Elite 11 quarterback competition as part of the The Opening recruiting showcase at The Star in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, June 29. 2019.

Combine Forecast- High School Athletics as a Predictor of NFL Combine Performance

The College Combine holds a significant place in bridging the gap between high school and college competition. Unlike the NFL Combine, which targets college athletes primed for the professional landscape, the College Combine caters specifically to high school players.

Notable college combines include the National Underclassmen Combine (NUC), The Opening Regional Combines, Rivals Camp Series, Under Armour All-America Camp Series, Blue-Grey All-American Combine, 247Sports Camp Series, Best Coast Showcase, Edgy Tim/EFT Football Academy Showcases, and the Elite 11 Quarterback Competition.

The physical tests are integral to these combines, allowing athletes to display their skills and capabilities. Standard measurements include the 40-Yard Dash and 20-Yard Shuttle, testing linear and lateral quickness respectively. The 3-Cone Drill, another agility test, evaluates the athletes' ability to change direction swiftly.

The Vertical Jump and Broad Jump are tests of lower body strength and explosiveness. The Power Throw or Hammer Throw, albeit less common than the bench press, is sometimes included to measure upper body power. Athletes also undergo basic anthropometric measurements, including height, weight, and arm and hand measurements.

The results from college combines, typically recorded when athletes are around 18 years old, can seem vastly different compared to those from the NFL Combine, where participants are generally 21 or 22. Indeed, the physical development that occurs during these crucial years can significantly affect an athlete's performance. For example, the average wide receiver records a forty-yard dash time in the low 4.5s at the NFL Combine, compared to mid 4.7s at the high school level. Similar performance enhancements can be observed in drills like the shuttle and the vertical jump.

With this in mind, our aim is twofold: firstly, to contextualize high school combine numbers within their position groups using percentiles, and secondly, to extrapolate these performances to potential NFL Combine results.

Consider Clemson’s Wide Receiver Beaux Collins, who recorded a 35.1-inch vertical and a 4.30 shuttle at the Opening Regional in 2019. These results placed him in the 66th and 44th percentiles, respectively. When we cross-reference these against historical NFL Combine percentiles, we project potential performances of 36.5 in the vertical and 4.27 in the shuttle.

It's important to note that the dataset for high school combines is substantially larger than that of the NFL Combine. To account for this discrepancy, we have only included high school combine participants who were also invited to the NFL Combine. For the 2024 draft, we only considered the top 350 prospects from our big board.

We've applied this methodology to all eligible 2024 draftees for whom we have reliable high school combine data, focusing initially on the shuttle and vertical drills. We plan to include forty-yard dash times soon.

However, we must stress that these extrapolated results are not direct predictions of an athlete's NFL Combine performance. Numerous factors can influence an athlete's development during their college years. Nevertheless, our analysis does suggest a significant correlation between high school and NFL Combine performances, and we believe this data will provide useful insights. To avoid confusion, projected college combine workout numbers will be tagged as 'HS' (High School).