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NFL combine drills explained: Bench press

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Longer arms are a plus in the eyes of NFL scouts, but they can be a hindrance for players looking for good numbers in the bench press drill.

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

The bench press is a pretty familiar drill for most, as it's a relatively basic display of strength for NFL Combine participants. Each draft prospect is given a 225-pound bench press and charged with the task of completing as many repetitions as possible.

The display of upper-body strength is most important for players in the trenches that need to show ability to swim, rip, disengage, pancake and cast off opposing lineman with their arms and torso. However, a player with many reps also shows endurance and the ability to consistently push throughout the drill, another potentially attractive quality to NFL scouts and coaches.

One somewhat tricky part about looking at the results is that they don't often tell the whole story of a player's physical abilities, as the drill is much more difficult for players with long arms than it is for those with short arms.

At the 2012 NFL Combine, Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams only managed 19 reps on the bench press. That was 14 reps fewer than Penn State center A.Q. Shipley's 33 at the 2009 NFL Combine. The difference, though, is that Adams's 34 inch arms were among the longest in his draft class, while Shipley's measured in at a quarter of an inch under 30 inches.

Adams was selected in the second round by the Steelers with the No. 56 overall selection, and Shipley fell to the seventh round to be selected by the Steelers with pick 226. They never played on the same team, though, as Shipley was signed by the Eagles after spending his rookie season in Pittsburgh on the practice squad.

The mark to beat at the 2013 NFL Combine is still a record set by Eastern Kentucky's Justin Ernest in the 1999 combine, when he put up 51 reps. Ernest went undrafted and never played in an NFL game, so the record is forgotten by many. Instead, Stephen Paea is often thought of as the record-holder after he finished with 49 reps at the 2011 combine.