NFL Considers Changes to Scouting Combine
With the NFL Scouting Combine set to unofficially open the new football season this week in Indianapolis, attention has again turned to the nature of the workouts and tests prospective players will be participating in.
For some time, the combine’s exercises have raised the eyebrows of those who believe it serves as nothing more than a glorified gym session that offers very little introspection as to how a player will cope on the football field. In response, the NFL has announced it will look into possible changes to the event.
“Our first focus is to look at what we do currently and make sure that that’s relevant,” said Jeff Foster, president of National Football Scouting Inc. “And if it is, great, we’ll continue to do it, because historical comparison is really important to the evaluation process. But if we believe that there’s something that’s not relevant, then what can we replace it with that will help us evaluate the players?”
That sort of progressive attitude is exactly the mindset the combine organizers need to adopt. The uniformity of the event – in that every player conducts the same drills and workouts – is understandable, but leaves scouts with very little understanding of a player’s true skill set.
Is anyone genuinely swayed by whether an offensive lineman can run a 40-yard dash in five seconds or five-and-a-half seconds? Or how many times his own body weight a 180-pound wide receiver can bench press?
It’s telling that most organizations us the combine to assess things like a player’s work ethic, attitude and manner of carrying himself more so than the numbers recorded in each drill. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick claimed the combine was not ancillary to the more “football intensive” training his franchise puts its rookies through once drafted.
“In the end, they’re going to make their career playing football,” he said. “We already know that with our guys, and we don’t have to deal with any of that other stuff. We just train them for football.”