NFL considers head-to-head races at Scouting Combine

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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.

34 responses to “NFL considers head-to-head races at Scouting Combine

  1. This will only cause the top guys to skip out on the 40. Too much to lose that way. It’s irritating to hear that certain guys “will” or “will not” throw or do other drills. I think if you come to the combine you should do all the respective drills or you can’t participate. That’ll never happen though.

  2. I’m not in favor of this. These guys are applying for a job with every team, anything that puts them in more harm’s way for injury is something I’m opposed to.

    I think its also important to consider that (especially for the 40 yd race proposal) most of these guys train individually to execute a “perfect” run. This usually includes a tailored technique that works for them alone. All I see happening is a bunch of false starts and even guys bowing out with “tweaked hamstrings”.

  3. One of these poor guys is gonna let that competition get the best of him and blow a gasket trying to outdue the other guy on the bench… Hopefully no one gets hurt before they ever get to play.

  4. Some people are faster when they are competing. It is just a fact.

    The NFL is a game where people do run against each other all the time. It makes a lot of sense to me.

  5. Put them in full pads and then make them run. It would give the teams a better idea of football speed.
    Everyone is fast in shorts..

  6. NO way this happens because agents wont want there man to get shown up in a head to head format…. The only guys who would do this would be the players who dont have anything to lose and are thinking they may not get drafted at all…..Is a great idea and would make it more fun to watch.. but no wya agents let something like this happen at all

  7. Terrible idea. The Combine is the ultimate NFL insiders event. Does everything need to be made for TV?

  8. The NFL wants to make the Combine just another revenue generating, carnival side show for fans.

    Just like the Pro Bowl game has become.

    Most GMs have already set their boards well before the Combine and are only interested in the interviews and medicals.

    Everything else is just an offseason circus act for hungry fans and extra television revenue for the NFL.

  9. Terrible idea. The 40 times and bench presses and verticals are already overrated in terms of evaluating talent – these are items that should be recorded for reference information. Instead, the NFL wants to pit these guys against each other so more people will watch? That’s the opposite of the reason these guys at the combine compete in these drills.

    The players’ union ought to be all over this nonsense. Not only are guys going to get hurt or skip the drills completely, they’re also going to be in a ridiculously large spotlight for no reason related to their own interests. Stocks are going to rise and fall not only based on whether X receiver can run a 4.4 40, but whether X receiver can beat Y receiver head-to-head. It’s not the freaking Olympics.

  10. This would be awesome.. they should have all kinds of different events. And they finish out the combine with a full-contact game. I know players won’t want to risk getting injured but they can give a 3 mil check to anyone who gets seriously injured. The only players who’s draft stock will get hurt by an injury are the ones who will make less than that anyway.

  11. Instead of races, how about an actual official electronic timer to measure the sprints, instead of the conjecture and estimates that we get every year?

  12. Roger Goodell said that the fans wanted to see competitive drills at the combine. Because, you know, no one else has their finger on the fans’ pulse like the Commish.

  13. hystoracle says:
    Feb 24, 2012 12:32 PM
    Put them in full pads and then make them run. It would give the teams a better idea of football speed.
    Everyone is fast in shorts..


    Agreed. Unless football players are going to play in shorts, the 40 yard dash is meaningless.
    Its the playing tape that matters.

  14. more money for the nfl…bottom line. not so great for the kid who tears an acl or pec muscle. his stock will drop and perhaps a career.

  15. The head-to-head thing makes sense, but in order to respond to all the cynics who unnecessarily cry “this all for show!!! Wah!!!”; the NFL should just say “the head-to-head 40-yard dash saves us time.”

  16. Good idea in theory but it won’t develop the way the NFL would like. Too many prospects will opt to not participate in these drills to to fear of hurting their draft status. Then how do we really know if we have the fastest or strongest guy at the combine.

    On a side note, Al Davis would have loved this.

  17. Any type of fun competition should be done at the pro bowl where the best of the best are supposed to be, the combine is part of an interview process, it sounds fun but there are to many things that could go wrong for a player and his hopeful career.

  18. I’d like to see a beer chugging competition among lineman. Jared Allen would have been awesome at that.

  19. what would actually make sense is (for the 40 yard dash, at least) to have them start in the stance they would if they were lining up on the field. I’ve never seen a WR or a QB line up in a 3point stance during the game.

    I would REALLY be interested in seeing a DB line up backwards (maybe at 39 yards) and have him backpedal for a few yards then turn and run. would give a MUCH better prospective of how he might do covering a “go” route.

  20. I think this would work great if they show the players the money for doing it. Say offer up a 100K for 1st. They are pros now and need to sop working for free. Have the competition by groups. Fastest DB, Line backer, lineman. It might be a hoot to see the offensive lineman running aganst each other.

  21. How about a 3-legged race?… C’mon. Get real. Somebody above used the word “gimmicky”. I believe he was being too kind. Putridly bad idea.

    I do miss the old QB challenges though. Why dont we bring that back? Pro Bowl skills competition maybe?

  22. Love the idea. Maybe this will turn it a little further away from the “underwear Olympics” and better emulate the idea of “competition speed in pads”

  23. I agree about having players start from a “game position”, also i’d like to see WRs vs. CBs with the CBs starting backwards w/a yard head start like the OP said.

    And hell yes- put them all in full pads! Have skills guys run, catch, block etc. but against guys with the big two-handed pads.

    Add as much “football” to the Combine as possible.

    Down with the Underwear Olympics!!!!

  24. Well, since this is already the underwear Olympics why not have them run in heats of eight?

    Yes. That was sarcasm.

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