NFL looking at ways to make sure Combine measures “relevant” data

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The professional football world will descend on Indianapolis this week for the Scouting Combine, which means aspiring NFLers will be put through the familiar rites of evaluation.

There will be interviews, psychological tests and, of course, the on-field Underwear Olympics of 40-yard dashes, shuttle drills and more as they try to show they can be capable members of NFL teams. There will also be people watching and evaluating whether the combine itself is capable of providing the kind of data that teams need to make those decisions.

National Football Scouting Inc. runs the Combine and the company’s president, Jeff Foster, said that they are looking at the current schedule and “making sure that that’s relevant” to the league today. There will be a football performance and technology symposium to discuss possible ways to improve the process, although Foster made it clear they don’t want to field test new ideas at the Combine.

“We want to make sure that we’re using the technology that’s available,” Foster said, via Tom Pelissero of USA Today. “What I don’t think we’re interested in doing is beta testing. We want some proven elements that will help us better evaluate the players so that we can project college players to the NFL.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league will “explore everything” that can improve the Combine.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s likely because each year brings talk of changes to some of the nuts and bolts of the combine without too many major shifts actually taking place. With teams doing more to develop their in-house methods of evaluating which tools matter most to them, that may continue to be the case.

36 responses to “NFL looking at ways to make sure Combine measures “relevant” data

  1. They need to do a different speed test. 40 yard dash tells you absolutely nothing (just look at the leaders of the last couple years)

  2. Why is the combine the same year after year? The athletes train specifically for each event, why not come up with a new event every year that no one is aware of what it is? The current format is good but could be better.

  3. The vertical jump has no practical application to football on the field. And do offensive linemen need to be sprinters? You want them to have quickness but straight ahead speed doesn’t transfer to what they are normally asked to do.

  4. Make it more about actual football skills. Put pads on, run 7 on 7 drills and 1 on 1 drills where you actually hit each other.

  5. All of these drills are skewed anyway, these guys know what they’ll be tested on so they spend 4 months specifically working out to get better at those drills and their agents spend thousands of dollars getting them trained.

  6. If they put sensors and weights in tackling dummies you could at least test the linemen, measuring the force they exert, duration, angle of attack. . . .

    Someone could make a fortune if they could build a practical, programmable pitching machine that can handle footballs. It would be a great way to test receivers and pass defenders — or even the ability to adjust to make a catch when it didn’t come right to you.

  7. Wouldn’t mind seeing a football film study/analysis/test process. It could be interesting for TV so the fans can learn new things and study another element of the scouting process, and it could be helpful to educate and prepare players while also providing more subjective/mental evaluation methods to consider.

  8. “The vertical jump has no practical application to football on the field.”

    I guess you’ve never seen a Dlineman or LB jump up to knock down a pass. Or a receiver or DB go up high for a catch or interception.

  9. NFL COMBINE yesterday in Tempe AZ was a decent success …. Those wanting to live the dream were there… Surprising the number of out of shape guys wanting a shot

  10. Don’t believe them. They are trying to turn it into better tv revenue.

    Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice will be live picking their “teams” Chris Carter will be finding his fall guy and sponsors will be falling over each other throwing money at it.

  11. Since belicheck made his statement regarding value now NFL wants to change process. Smartest person in the country regarding pro football who should be commissioner over the idiot we have in their now. We all know they wouldn’t do it because they couldn’t control him.

  12. The nfl combine is the equivalent of an IQ test. In other words, it lies more than it tells the truth. Look at the all time records for bench and 40 yd. Very few household names.

  13. ‘Smartest person in the country regarding pro football’


    And they can’the stand it. Therein lies the problem

  14. The combine is very much like the pro bowl. It’s a complete waste of time. It’s only value is that it gathers all the top college players together so that the NFL evaluators can get a chance to interview them, and for the doctors and trainers to get updated information. The best and most accurate way to evaluate football ability is by watching them play football. Everything you need to know about a player to make an accurate evaluation is on the tape. The combine drills are ridiculous. Do you judge how good a chef is by measuring how fast he can chop onions, or do you taste the food. You wonder why so many GMs get fired. The smart GMs already have their draft boards set before the combine.

  15. One if the best players of all time, Tom Brady had one of the worst combines in history and was therefore drafted in the 6th round. There’s no combine measurement that is gonna show a player’s determination or intelligence or even football sense. And that’s the problem with the current setup. It needs to be more football oriented and less about pure athleticism.

  16. The only ones who take the Combine for more than what it really is (medical checks, interviews, and confirmation of physical attributes that show up on tape) are the NFL Network, ESPN, and the entire NFL draft machine of would-be scouts, GMs, and experts. Granted, I count myself in that group, but without access to coaches tape, or all-22 film copies, the Combine is one of the only chances I have to see a lot of these guys in person.

    I think it is fairly easy to see who is “test-trained,” and who the football athletes are. Makes it fun to sort the pretenders from the stars, and see how it turns out in 5 years.

  17. Really, the biggest benefit for NFL teams is that they can interview many players without limitation. After the combine, they are limited to very few stadium visits by players in the draft. It is hard to find the right fit through skill alone.

  18. 2 questions. How many times can you close grip bench for lineman? And how much are you willing to break the rules?……2nd question is personally asked by Goodell for his snuggle buddy Kraft.

  19. Smart teams study film of games, talk to college coaches, and use the combine for interviews. The combine is a nice tv event for the league, keeping the NFL shield in the nation’s focus an extra few days in the offseason.

  20. jchipwood
    Feb 21, 2016, 9:07 PM EST
    Patriot fans have a hard time understanding facts about cheating.

    jchipwood talking about facts?!

  21. I guess you’ve never seen a Dlineman or LB jump up to knock down a pass. Or a receiver or DB go up high for a catch or interception.
    I’ve seen those things, of course. But why would a guard, tackle, or a center need to have that particular skill?

  22. It used to be we wanted to see if they could jump higher, run faster and hit harder.

    Now, we worry if they smoke doobies, drink booze or break up with their girlfriend.

  23. They could start by dropping the Wonderlic, which has not been shown to be a statistically significant predictor of increased future performance at any position (although CB and TE apparently have a slight negative correlation).

  24. mackcarrington says:
    Feb 21, 2016 9:30 PM
    I guess you’ve never seen a Dlineman or LB jump up to knock down a pass. Or a receiver or DB go up high for a catch or interception.
    I’ve seen those things, of course. But why would a guard, tackle, or a center need to have that particular skill?


    The vertical jump shows explosion and leg power, which is incredibly important for interior lineman. It isn’t about how high they can jump to knock down a ball, it is about how much push they can get coming out of their stances and how fast they can get onto the guy in front of them.

    The portion of the 40 that applies to lineman is the 10 yard split, because that shows their acceleration, which is information that compliments the vertical leap.

    The series of tests being used applies to most on field positions, which is why it is the series of tests being used. The best way to improve the accuracy would be to have them do it in full pads to see what they look like carrying the extra bulk.

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