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NFL Combine 2016: Wide receiver drills

The "gauntlet" drill is must-see television for any football fan.

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The NFL Combine continues on Saturday as the marquee offensive skill guys -- the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends -- hit the turf for their highly anticipated on-field workouts and drills.

While the standard physical tests such as the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and shuttle run are critical pieces of scouting information in evaluating overall athleticism and speed, the position-specific drills are perhaps more significant because they showcase real football-playing skills.

Prospective receivers are put through a series of drills designed to test their hand-eye coordination and footwork, plus their ability to run routes and adjust to thrown balls. Specifically, there are three drills used to evaluate the wideouts: the sideline tap drill, the over the shoulder drill and, perhaps the most notable one, the "gauntlet" drill.

In the sideline tap drill, the receiver runs 8-10 yards and cuts toward the sideline, where he has to make the catch and then tap his feet inbounds. In the over the shoulder drill, the wideout runs a fly pattern (run at top speed straight ahead) and then looks back over his shoulder to locate the ball and make the catch. Both of these drills test body control, hands and agility while running at different speeds.

The "gauntlet" is not only a valuable drill for scouting purposes, but it's also a pretty cool and entertaining workout to watch as a fan. Standing near the sideline, the receiver catches a pass while stationary, spins and catches another pass, then starts sprinting across the field, catching passes from alternating sides as he runs towards the opposite sideline. In all, he has to make seven catches from five different quarterbacks while running full speed in a straight line.

It is an excellent test of a player's concentration, timing and focus. Players have to look the ball into their gloves and then quickly move onto a different target. It is also good tool to evaluate a prospect's hands. There's isn't enough time for the receiver to corral the ball with his body, so it forces them to make "hands" catches, a skill that is highly valued by scouts.

Players to Watch

Corey Coleman (Baylor): A key cog in the Bears' potent offense, Coleman led the country with 20 touchdown receptions last fall and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top collegiate receiver. At his best, he is a dangerous vertical threat and exciting playmaker, but also has the ability to gain chunk yards after the catch with his extraordinary combination of elusiveness and speed. The biggest question mark for him at the next level is how he'll transition from Baylor's spread offense to a more traditional pro-style system.

Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss): Projected by many to be the first wide receiver taken in April's draft, Treadwell fits the profile of a prototypical No. 1 wideout in the NFL. He has tremendous ball-tracking skills, a large catch radius, and is outstanding as a "move the chains" specialist with a natural feel for the nuances of the wide receiver position. The key hole in his resume is a lack of top-end vertical speed, making his decision not to run the 40-yard dash in Indy a disappointing one for scouts in Indianapolis.

Braxton Miller (Ohio State): While he probably won't go off the board in the first round, Miller remains an intriguing prospect. He made the switch from quarterback to wide receiver for his senior season in Columbus, and though his production wasn't overwhelming (26 catches, 341 yards), he proved that he could play the position at the next level. Miller's most exciting trait is his incredible athleticism and speed, which instantly makes him a legitimate deep threat for any team even though he lacks the route-running experience of most receiver prospects.