The days when NFL prospects hauled timber along the open highway and sprinted on beaches full of soft sand to train for the draft and combine have long since passed. Even the modernity of today’s tech-inspired weight rooms and the comprehensive on-field training most players now go through may not be enough.
To prepare for this year’s combine, Florida offensive tackle David Sharpe—the Oakland Raiders’ fourth round selection this year—underwent testing and training at the Motus biomechanics lab at IMG Academy in addition his more routine training.
In the lab, Sharpe was outfitted with wearable sensors and motion capture markers that “collect data at 480 times per second,” said Motus lab general manager Tony Laughlin in an e-mail. That is roughly ten times faster than the average video recording device according to Laughlin.
The technology allows Motus lab technicians to “identify movement faults not visible with the human eye or through video playback,” he says.
Because Sharpe’s testing scores qualify as medical data, they aren’t accessible to the media, but Laughlin highlighted the kinds of things that Sharpe’s testing was focused on.
It was used to “identify flaws in movement that are limiting performance or increasing risk of injury,” he said. Which, in turn, can help players “gain and understanding of what they can to do improve in these areas through partnership with coaches, trainers and Motus staff.”
Without viewing the progression of Sharpe’s testing scores, it’s hard to evaluate the merit of the Motus Lab’s work, but the increasing number of NFL hopefuls that are using the technology indicate that it’s becoming more mainstream. That’s not surprising, particularly if IMG and the Motus Lab are able to go beyond film study and the naked eye for player improvement.
The Raiders officially signed Sharpe on Friday. He was an integral part of a Florida offense that averaged 215.8 passing yards per game in 2016, the school’s highest total since 2009, according to USA Today.
Coaches are always looking for that edge in the NFL—that extra inch—and innovation like the testing Sharpe underwent might represent just that. Don’t be surprised to see biomechanics scores involved in the NFL Combine in the near future.
The Raiders will be hoping that Motus testing did wonders for their newly signed tackle prospect.
**A change was reflected on this article on 5/29/2017. Although Motus Lab rep Darra Sellers was the source for the quotes and information, it was made clear to me that she was passing on information from lab’s GM Tony Laughlin, and thus, the quotes have now been attributed to him.