History reveals which combine drills matter to Chargers’ coaches
By Tyler Gallagher
Bench Press: Doesn’t matter, even for linemen
For offensive linemen, the biggest attribute that fans want to see in their players is strength, which seems to be best measured by the bench press drill at the combine.
Recent Chargers draft history says that Chargers management does not care about this drill one bit.
This is best exemplified by the fact that Trey Pipkins was drafted by the Chargers in the third round last year despite posting a position-worst 16 reps.
While other linemen recently drafted by the Chargers, such as Scott Quessenberry, Justin Jones, and Jerry Tillery put up more average numbers (25, 24, and 23 reps respectively), the Chargers are not afraid to draft a lineman with poor bench press numbers, as long as they believe the functional strength and ability is present in the player.
3-Cone Drill and Shuttle Times: Matters, primarily for running backs
The 3-cone drill and shuttle are two drills used to measure the change-of-pace ability and burst of prospects. This is important for many positions, but it is perhaps most important for running backs that need this ability to avoid tacklers.
However, preference for this trait varies greatly depending upon what type of running back a team desires. Teams that prefer bruisers or one-cut backs will have a lower value for these times, as they prefer either power or straight-line speed.
As first suggested on the Guilty as Charged Podcast, the Chargers seem to like shiftier running backs. This holds true when examining their 3-cone drill and shuttle times.
The two backs the Chargers have drafted in Tom Telesco’s tenure are Melvin Gordon and Justin Jackson. Jackson was the fastest at both events among running backs who performed at the combine, with 3-cone and shuttle times of 6.81 and 4.07 respectively. Gordon was not too far off of these times with a 7.04 and 4.07.
While the sample size remains small, it seems that the type of running back the Chargers prefer gives them a high preference for players that perform well in these two drills at the position.