Is The NFL Scouting Combine Necessary?

There are some doubts that it needs to be held.

The National Football League Scouting Combine begins its annual run February 28th in Indianapolis where 319 former college football players will participate in their quest to achieve their NFL dreams and will be examined by football evaluators and medical personnel through March 6th.  It’s a boring skills competition featuring young players in tee shirts and shorts and football shoes doing drills such as running and weight lifting. The NFL claims the combine is a vital event in the path to the draft. But not every college player is eligible for the combine. Players have to be invited and need three years of college experience and then they have to be good citizens. In 2016, the NFL decided to ban players with convictions for violence, using a weapon, domestic violence or sexual assault from attending the combine. But there are some high-powered football people who are questioning the need for the combine.

In December, 2022 Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, likened the combine to a “slave auction.” Earlier this month, the NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said it was time to get rid of the combine and replace it with regional pro days. Smith added, “we’re now in an era where we know exactly how fast these guys can run, how much they can lift, how far they can jump, do all of those things. Why do we insist on them showing up in Indianapolis? It’s not for anything physical, right? It’s for the teams to be able to engage in intrusive employment actions that don’t exist anywhere else.” The combine is big business though. Indianapolis’s hotel and motel get a bump in occupancy and car rental agencies rent more cars and restaurants see more customers, fans get a football fix and TV fills programming.

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San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) celebrates after scoring a touchdown with quarterback Brock Purdy during the second half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)