In a normal year, the Super Bowl is followed fairly quickly by the Scouting Combine. Obviously, however, there’s nothing normal about this year.
The Scouting Combine, if it happens, will look and feel far different from the normal Scouting Combine.
Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that its status will be decided within the next week. Possible outcomes include proceeding with the Scouting Combine in reduced form, delay it to April, or utilize Regional Combines that would prevent a potential super spreader gathering of players in Indianapolis.
As Schefter notes, plans for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in Indianapolis from March 14 through April 5 complicates the possibility of a delayed event, since that window would become problematic.
Here’s what we’ve heard in recent days about the situation.
One G.M. suggested that a traditional Scouting Combine won’t happen, and that it could consist of a hybrid exercise with doctors who have been vaccinated against the virus gathering medical information, along with some scaled-down form of measurements and workouts. Teams, under that scenario, wouldn’t be present — with the exception of a few trainers and doctors and perhaps a position coach or two from each team to run workouts.
From the league’s perspective, the size and scope won’t matter nearly as much as whether whatever it is that happens can be televised. What started as a joint effort to determine the health of players has become a profit center, driven by the ability of the league to gather a sizable audience of football fans who would rather watch football but who will settle for the next best thing.
Looking at the pre-draft process more broadly, plenty of scouts are hoping that things will be delayed or changed for 2021, given the normal travel obligations that arise in February, March, and April. Last year, the Pro Day tour stopped in its tracks after the pandemic was declared. Currently, even as the infection rate and death rate keep climbing, there’s a clumsy but determined push toward normalcy. Many who normally would be crisscrossing the country as the draft approaches hope that it won’t be business as usual in these still unusual times.