NFL combine drills explained: 3-cone drill

Joe Robbins

The three-cone drill is typically dominated by wide receivers and defensive backs who are good at changing direction quickly.

The three-cone drill takes just a few seconds to complete, but it says a lot about a player's shiftiness, ability to change direction and ability to bend around a corner with ankle flexibility.

A player runs 5 yards to the first cone and turns back, then runs around the second cone before weaving around the third cone at the top of the "L" and comes back to finish at the second cone. The quick drill is a display of a player's ability to quickly change direction and keep momentum going around corners.

Athletes who finish with strong times in the drill are typically able to quickly navigate their way around corners without losing momentum and can also completely change direction quickly. Those are good traits to have for pass rushers, defensive backs and offensive skill players who are looking to make players miss in the open field.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeff Maehl is the record holder in the drill, as the undersized pass catcher was clocked at 6.42 seconds at the 2011 NFL Combine. It wasn't enough to get him drafted though, and Maehl signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent. He has since been traded to the Eagles, where he was reunited with his college coach, Chip Kelly.

Cornerback Buster Skrine of the Cleveland Browns nearly bested the mark the same year, but missed Maehl's best by two-hundredths of a second. Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Davis and New England Patriots wide receiver T.J. Moe posted the two best times at the 2013 NFL Combine at 6.52 and 6.53 seconds.

Keep an eye on smaller, shiftier players to post the best marks in the drill during the 2014 NFL Combine. Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas, Kent State's Dri Archer and Wyoming's Marqueston Huff are just a few of the players to watch when the three-cone drill begins.

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