2021 may have been an anomaly for the NFL Scouting Combine and pro days. That doesn’t mean that everything will return to the way that it was, though. Pro Football Network’s Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo and Chief Draft Analyst and Insider Tony Pauline have both been hearing that there could be major changes on the way for the pre-draft process.
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Could technology mean an end to the NFL Combine and pro days?
On the April 7 episode of Draft Insiders, Wingo began by referencing a conversation that he had with Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco. “This was something (he) brought up with me. (Telesco said) the GPS data they’ve had over the last couple of years has really been a breakthrough.”
Wingo expanded this further. “I don’t think they’re ever getting rid of the Combine because the Combine gives the NFL the one thing they don’t have at a lot of these pro days, which is control. They set everything up.” Wingo further referenced examples of teams at past pro days creating favorable conditions for players.
“The Combine was started primarily for NFL teams to share medical information,” Pauline stated, referencing players having to repeat identical medical tests for every team they visited in the past. “The object of the Combine was to get these guys together, x-ray them once, share the medical information and then take it from there. From that point on, they developed some physical tests: the 40-yard dash, the shuttle, and they used to do the vertical jump up against a wall. It’s obviously taken off. The Combine’s not going away.”
Pauline also addressed Wingo’s conversation with Telesco about technological advancements. “It’s at the point now that I think teams are using this GPS information, and it has great value, but it’s not the talk around the water cooler. The Monday after John Ross ran a 4.22 40-yard dash, that’s not going to be talked about if it’s translated to GPS data. I think things will change. I don’t know, considering the big marketing opportunities that the league sees with the Combine, which is probably going to eventually move from Indianapolis, that we’re going to see a huge change in it.”
What is the future of the NFL Combine?
Wingo agreed with Pauline that it’s likely the Combine moves away from Indianapolis in the future. “Much in the same way that the draft has been bouncing around — it’s going to be in Cleveland this year, and it would have been in Vegas last year — the NFL has another traveling product. It will kill the scouts and the player personnel guys, but this is going to be a traveling roadshow, and it’s going to be another level of the circus, which allows the NFL to dominate a year-long sports news cycle.”
Pauline expects the Combine to stretch over a longer timeframe in multiple locations.
“What people are saying is going to happen is everyone will converge on Indianapolis, where the players will do their medical examinations, the psychological tests, the Wonderlic test, they’ll do the interviews, and they’ll have access to the media. Then what will happen is they’ll break out the workouts. The receivers and quarterbacks may work out in Arizona. You may have the defensive backs work out in Miami. The linebackers may work out somewhere in the New York/New Jersey area. The offensive linemen in Detroit and the defensive linemen in Texas. And this is going to be over a couple of different weekends, so this could be televised.”
Pauline continued, “What also is going to happen is, as this becomes big business, the players and the player reps are going to start asking for appearance fees for their top guys. (For example) you might get Joe Burrow’s agent saying, ‘you want Joe Burrow to work out at 8 o’clock on a Saturday night to throw? That’s fine. We want a $250,000 appearance fee for our guy to show up because you’re making money off it on network television.’ Watch. That will happen.”
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