The Scouting Combine never really changes all that much, in part because the NFL wants to be able to make year-to-year, apples-to-apples comparisons among players not just in the current draft class but in as many past ones as possible. That could be changing. Maybe.
Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome said during the team’s pre-draft press conference that the league addressed potential changes to the process during a session held in conjunction with the league meetings in Arizona.
Newsome, a member o the league’s Competition Committee, said the “process has to remain pure,” via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. “I think that gives the players the time and the opportunity that they need, and it gives us what we need to properly evaluate the players.”
That’s a vague statement, which says nothing about changes that could be made or why changes should be made. Newsome declined to provide more details, citing the confidential nature of the meeting. (Apparently, it wasn’t sufficiently confidential to escape mention by Newsome at the pre-draft press conference.)
Newsome also said that the league wants “to respect” the incoming draft picks who attend the Scouting Combine.
Currently, the incoming draft picks don’t get much of that. Yanked out of bed before dawn and made to pee in a cup and poked and prodded and forced to wait and ultimately subjected to a bizarre interview process unlike anything used in any other American industry, the incoming draft picks nevertheless are programmed to think of the whole thing as an honor.
There’s little that’s honorable about it, frankly. If the process consistently resembled something other than a crapshoot, maybe it would be defensible. But even after all of the indignities to which the players submit under the guise of getting paid to take substantial risks to their long-term and short-term health interests, the process is no more accurate than flipping a coin.
So, yes, things should change. As long as there’s a draft, however, don’t expect that to happen. The teams hold all the cards, the players have no control, and the whole thing continues to be sold to everyone involved as some sort of privilege, regardless of the fact that the teams need the incoming players a lot more than the incoming players need the teams.