The NFL Scouting Combine may soon resemble a track meet, as the league is considering changes to make the Combine more competitive and viewer friendly.
Judy Battista of the New York Times reports that the NFL is considering major changes to the Combine in the future, including having head-to-head races in the 40-yard dash. With the Combine becoming important programming for NFL Network, and with the NFL now letting a small group of fans into the stadium to watch, the league is considering ways to make the Combine more fan-friendly by making it more competitive.
As it stands, players have plenty of incentive to do well in the 40-yard dash, the bench press and other Combine measurements because they know NFL teams will be using those measurements to assess them. But football players are competitive people, and it might add to the incentive to push themselves if they have the opportunity to prove that they’re the fastest or the strongest man at the Combine.
The NFL could, for instance, time players as usual in the 40-yard dash and then have a final race among the five players with the fastest times. Or it could assess every lineman in the bench press, and then bring back the top two and have them bench press simultaneously to see who can crank out more reps at 225 pounds for the title of strongest man at the Combine.
Unsurprisingly, plenty of personnel executives who have grown accustomed to the way the Combine works now don’t like the new proposals.
“I’m old school,” 49ers G.M. Trent Baalke said. “Let’s just roll with how we’re doing it.”
Maybe this makes me new school, but I love the idea of adding some competition to the Combine. Heck, having grown up watching guys like Renaldo Nehemiah, Herschel Walker and Willie Gault compete in the Superstars, I’d love to see them go all-out and add an obstacle course for the running backs and a tug-of-war for the linemen.
That’s not going to happen. But a head-to-head competition in the 40-yard dash might.