In response to the criticism arising from the Aaron Hernandez case, the NFL is considering a change that, in our view, ultimately will have no impact on the decision of teams to take chances on players with questionable backgrounds.
According to Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com, the NFL is considering barring academically ineligible prospects from the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Feldman, citing an unnamed NFL source, reports that the possibility is “being discussed because of the increased scrutiny on the maturity and commitment of the prospects entering the NFL.”
By excluding the players deemed most likely to be drafted from Indianapolis, the NFL would only be making the scouting process more cumbersome and expensive for its teams. The primary benefit of the Scouting Combine comes from bringing all of the top prospects and all of the teams to the same place, reducing significantly the costs of the medical review and creating an opportunity to talk to as many players as possible, either via the normal interview rotation or the loosely-organized (and lesser-known) “train station” conversations, which in theory allows a sufficiently diligent team to register face time with every player.
Besides, academically ineligible players would still be drafted, whether they go to the Scouting Combine or not.
So while it’s good that the NFL is considering ways to prevent future Aaron Hernandezes from being employed by NFL teams when they allegedly commit murder or other mayhem, banning academically ineligible players from the Scouting Combine won’t do anything to accomplish the goal.
Unless the goal is to generate some P.R. that will make the casual fan think the NFL is serious about the problem. If the NFL really is serious about the problem, however, this isn’t the way to solve it.