This week, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith called for the end of the NFL Combine. It’s probably bluster, and it’s unknown if it’s something Smith will continue to push for, but when a person in Smith’s position speaks, you have to consider what he says.
That’s why I asked a few of my friends in scouting what it would mean for there to be no combine. It’s a worthy question because, in the space of about 10 years, we’ve seen the annual Indianapolis workouts go from a mostly hidden evaluation exercise to a large media phenomenon which includes whistle-to-whistle coverage. That’s great for Internet scouts, but it’s made the job of NFL scouts a little less comfortable, at the very least.
Here are the responses we got and the points scouts made:
- Why make medical examinations less efficient?: “They still have to have some type of central medical testing take place. It wouldn’t be feasible to have the players go to 32 clubs for exams, so I don’t ever see that component going away. I could see them eliminating the interviews and making it a medical event with on-field workouts for TV. They aren’t going to lose that programming for NFL network.”
- A lot of talented players might go undrafted: “It would definitely affect the way things are evaluated. . . Would make it harder on the players with removing the medical aspect. . . Would create more financial and logistical challenges for NFL teams, college teams and agents as well.”
- T-30 visits would have to be expanded: “My guess would be that there would be more medical question guys brought in for top 30 (visits), or the league may allow more than 30 visits. I don’t think it would affect pro days too much. There will still be the usual coverage with scouts and coaches to hash out questions.”
- It would ultimately mean more work for the players: “If you don’t have them all in one place, the kid will have to most likely (be evaluated medically, be interviewed, and work out) a bunch of times with all the teams individually. It’s big business, and when clubs invest big money, they want to get as much information as possible to make decisions. It won’t change the information they want from the kids, I believe, just the method and logistics of getting it.”
Is Smith really serious? Time will tell. Ultimately, though, it probably wouldn’t benefit players the way Smith thinks it would. . . or at least that’s what scouts think.
To learn more about how scouts — and others around the league — think, make sure you’re reading our weekly newsletter, the Friday Wrap. You can register for it here.