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NFL combine drills explained: Vertical jump

The vertical jump at the NFL Combine is about more than just jumping ability.

USA TODAY Sports

The vertical jump at the NFL Combine measures a player's ability to get off the ground, but the importance of the test goes beyond the ability to jump high.

A player's reach is measured before the jump and the prospect then jumps flat-footed to hit as many flags above them as possible. The player is then given a second opportunity to hit more flags and best his previous jump.

While jumping ability is nice and the ability to win jump balls in the end zone can depend on your natural jumping abilities, the value of a strong vertical jump is that it shows a player's ability to burst off the line of scrimmage with lower body strength. That makes it an especially important statistic for lineman, who have to surge off the line with power.

The second-best vertical jump in NFL Combine history came in 2005 when Penn State outside linebacker Cameron Wake jumped 45.5 inches. He went undrafted and eventually played two seasons in the Canadian Football League before joining the Miami Dolphins in 2009.

That burst is put on display often in the Dolphins defense as Wake has racked up 51.5 sacks and three trips to the Pro Bowl in five seasons with the team.

The record in the drill belongs to former Dallas Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh, who jumped a half-inch higher than Wake in the same year. Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael posted the best mark at the 2013 NFL Combine, with a 43-inch vertical. New England Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins was just behind Michael with a 41.5-inch jump.

Among the players to keep the closest eye on during the vertical jump portion of the NFL Combine are athletic pass rushers like South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, UCLA's Anthony Barr and Buffalo's Khalil Mack.