The Bench Press is probably the simplest drill at the combine. Players bench 225 times for as many repetitions as possible. This drill measures two things, first, it measures a player's upper body strength. Second, it measures how much time players have spent in the weight room; more weight room time tends to correlate to more reps. The drill has it's flaws; it's easier for a player with shorter arms finish a rep than it is for a player with long arms, for example. Also, while a player may be able to put up good numbers in the weight room, that strength may not translate into on-field success if a player doesn't have good form. Therefore, the bench press should be used in conjunction with game tape and multiple other points of analysis.
Success in the Bench Press does not always correlate with on-field success. In 2013, guard Larry Warford benched 225 pounds 28 times. A solid number, but not even the best from his position group. Eric Herman benched 36 times, Jonathan Cooper 35 times, Lamar Mady 35 times, Brian Schwenke 31 times, and Chris Barker 29 times. Some might argue that Cooper is the better player from the group, but looking at both player's careers so far, Larry Warford is clearly the best guard of the 2013 class, no disrespect intended to Cooper.
Let's look at another set of recent numbers. In 2010, defensive tackle Geno Atkins came in tied for 3rd among defensive tackles with 34 reps with Torrell Troup and Brian Price. Jeffrey Owens was the best of the group with 44 reps, and Linval Joseph came in with 39 reps. Ndamukong Suh came in behind Atkins with 32 reps, and Gerald McCoy came in 12th among Defensive Tackle prospects in 2010 with 22 reps.
While the Bench Press does measure some type of pure upper body strength, it does not necessarily predict success in the NFL. Would you rather have Geno Atkins or Jeffrey Owens as your starting defensive tackle? How about choosing between Eric Herman or Larry Warford? The bench press alone clearly isn't going to pick the best player at a given position. How, then, do you use the numbers generated from the bench press?
The Bench Press is good for a few things. First, if scouts have questions about a player's upper body strength going into the draft, a solid performance in this drill can help to ease those questions. Second, as is the case with 40 times, the bench press can be used to differentiate between two closely ranked players. It can also tempt teams to take a chance on a player they otherwise wouldn't draft near the end of the draft if someone generates massive numbers. That being said, the bench press should not and generally will not propel a 7th round talent into the 1st round. That would be silly. The tape doesn't lie, and is always the BEST source of scouting intelligence for any player. Bench press data merely help to fill out the complete picture. Trust the tape, but let the Combine Data confirm your suspicions.
In closing, I'd like to issue a thank you, to www.weebly.com. This is the second time I've written this article tonight (hence the potentially slightly rushed feel), and now, at 1:42 AM, I'm posting it again, since the site chose to delete my original post when I clicked "post." Thanks weebly, for stealing an hour of sleep!
Best of luck to everyone in the combine this year, and to everyone watching, enjoy the show!
Mike Bertasso and Matt Koontz will be posting on this page. Click here for more info about us!