The books are now closed on the 2022 NFL Combine after some terrific workouts. How will the future of the Combine shake out as the NFL looks to monetize and commercialize the scouting event?
Future of the NFL Combine
Over the past few Combines, I’ve written about changes that are coming. Some changes have already been implemented, such as workouts taking place in prime time rather than starting first thing each morning. More changes are still to come — and no one is excited about them.
The immediate question on everyone’s mind is, where will the Combine take place in 2023? Will it return for another year to Indianapolis, which has ably hosted the event since 1987? Or will it move to another city, as has been rumored?
Indianapolis was initially chosen to host the Combine in large part because of its central location. It was a sort of compromise between the East Coast and West Coast teams. At the time, the RCA Dome was the perfect location. Its many conference rooms were perfect for weigh-ins, medical stations, classrooms to administer the Wonderlic test, and the occasional interview.
While it doesn’t have the same exact setup, Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center are capable enough that no one is inconvenienced. Indianapolis’ many condensed walkways and streets make it easy to get from the hotel to the stadium and press center. No one, including teams, scouts, or media, has to drive to a press conference or a workout. Oftentimes, people don’t even have to go outside — that’s why everyone who attends the Combine desires for it to remain in Indianapolis.
Where will the NFL Combine take place in 2023?
Unfortunately, the league has other ideas as it takes further control of the Combine.
Rumors last week were that the Combine will move to either Frisco, Texas, or Los Angeles, California in 2023. This was met with protests by everyone from teams to scouts to agents to the media. They don’t want Texas and they absolutely don’t want Los Angeles — and I concur.
One source with the Denver Broncos said he expects the Combine to be broken up — something I initially wrote about during the 2020 event. The most likely outcome would involve spreading positions around the country for workouts.
For example, the quarterbacks and receivers will work out in Los Angeles, defensive backs in Miami, tight ends and running backs in Dallas, defensive linemen in Detroit, and offensive linemen in Baltimore. You get the idea.
Teams, as well as player agents, detest that plan. Players would first have to come to a central location for medical exams before fanning out across the country to work out. It would cause a lot of extra travel for players and teams.
Players (and hopefully scouts) have large say in the future of the NFL Combine
The Combine remains a necessary piece to the scouting puzzle, despite many believing it’s outdated. My Denver source told me scouting departments have put together a committee of sorts which is talking — if not negotiating — with the league on the state of future Combines.
They are going point by point on what’s important and what must be included at every Combine for the event to remain a relevant scouting event. Will that work? That depends — on the league and on the players.
Players invited to the Combine hold a lot of power, as we saw just a few weeks ago. The league was forced to reverse course on their intended bubble due to the threat of a boycott of Combine workouts, as we first reported here at PFN. If future Combine invitees take the same stance because of changes they don’t like, the league will have to relent. Eventually, as the NFL continues to cash in and monetize the Combine, players will demand appearance fees — and you can’t blame them.
It’s sort of ironic. For years, people complained the Combine was locked down and no one could get information on what was happening. Then, starting in 2001, I had a hand in changing much of that. Now, many complain the Combine is too wide open and too much of a media and fan event. As they say — be careful what you wish for.