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NFL Combine drills explained: 3-cone drill

This is one of the most important drills at the Combine.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to evaluating the agility of wide receivers and defensive backs, there may not be a better exercise at the Combine than the three-cone drill.

Cones are set five yards apart in an "L" shape, and the player starts in a three-point stance at one of the end cones. The NFL hopeful sprints forward for 5 yards, touches down with his right hand, then turns, sprints back to the starting line and touches down again. He turns once more, sprints around the middle cone to the far cone, circles around that, and runs back around the middle cone to return to the starting line.

"[This is] the single most important drill at the combine, plain and simple," an anonymous scout told CBS Sports. "Regardless of position, I want to know how the player performs in space and this helps show change of direction, explosiveness and overall athleticism. There is validity to this test translating to the football field."

Scouts can learn a lot about receivers while watching this drill, as making cuts is an important part of a wideout's skill set. Cornerbacks have a chance to show off their quickness and cutting abilities as well.

Wide receiver Jeff Maehl from Oregon set the three-cone drill record in 2011, completing the drill in 6.42 seconds. He beat the previous record held by cornerback Sedrick Curry by a mere 0.03 seconds.

Undrafted wide receiver Devon Cajuste led the pack last year, blazing through the drill in 6.49 seconds.