History of the NFL Scouting Combine
The Dallas Cowboys were innovators in the world of professional football.
They scouted small black colleges and picked plums such as Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Everson Walls, Nate Newton, Harvey Martin, Bullet Bob Hayes and Rayfield Wright. This franchise was the first to place wind socks on the goal posts in order to tell which direction the wind was blowing and, to some extent, how hard it was blowing. They were the first to use computers to capture player information.
The first director of player personnel position was with the Cowboys. They were the first to have their offensive linemen wear protective knee pads and the first team to hire team dietitians.
And, they invented the reconnaissance combine.
Cowboys president and general manager Tex Schramm worked for CBS before the job in Dallas and knew the importance of television when it came to sports. At the time, star college athletes had their own tryout auditions for professional scouts on their college campuses. Over time, more and more star players started doing it. It got to the point that NFL scouts were crossing the country and attending hundreds of these college sessions watching various players in addition to attending the Senior Bowl.
Schramm represented the Cowboys in just about everything instead of owners, including voting on league matters. He had a reputation as the most powerful general manager in the NFL. At one point, he headed the NFL’s competition committee.
Schramm suggested many innovations that have become an integral part of the fabric of the NFL, such as moving the goal posts from the goal line to the back line of the end zone, displaying game time on the scoreboard rather than with the umpire and quarterback protection. . This kind of situation has benefited the whole league and not just the Cowboys.
Besides their own professional scouting departments, at the time there were several services that provided college player statistics for use by NFL clubs such as Quadras Scouting, National Football Scouting, CEPO, United Scouting and most widely used was BLESTO. “City scouts” were assigned to each NFL team that used BLESTO’s services, which was by paid subscription. These scouts saw actual games and filed detailed scouting reports every two weeks, which were then mailed to each respective NFL scouting department that used their services. These reports would focus only on each player’s skills – or their decrease – topped off by injury ratings.
On the competition committee, Schramm reflected on whether the league should house a central location where these draft-eligible college players could show off their skills and perform routine drills instead of flying across the country trying to see them. play individually.
In 1982, the first event was held in Tampa, Florida. It was called the “National Invitational Camp” (NIC).
Most people don’t know that the NIC is not run by the NFL but by a National Football Scouting contractor. After Tampa, the NIC was held in New Orleans, Arizona, and then again in New Orleans. The players present were by invitation only.
Because the NIC was held during the winter month of late February (and now early March), in 1987 it was permanently moved to the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana (now called Lucas Oil Stadium) and renamed the event “NFL Scouting Combine”. “This allowed coaches, general managers and scouts to be able to watch in air-conditioned indoor enclosures.
The objective of the Combine is for these athletes to participate in the exact same drills which can be used to describe their skills with real comparisons. Measurable qualities such as speed, strength, body size, jumping abilities, intelligence tests and agility are now all accurately listed in one place.
This year, the NFL Scouting Combine will begin on Tuesday and end on March 7. Each year, 330 invitations are sent and evaluated by a selection committee.
The Combine was first televised in February 2004 on NFL Network. They showed an hour of various workouts in daily recaps six times a day. This year, expect to see 50 hours of live coverage. In 2019, ESPN began coverage with daily updates along with sister network ABC.
A full schedule of NFL Network events and coverage is listed here:
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Medical care for all players involved has always been a top priority. These athletes also participate in drug screenings, psychological evaluations and intelligence tests such as the Wonderlic. Then there are the many scheduled interviews with general managers and coaches.
As the game of professionals has evolved, along with the science of player evaluation, the NFL Scouting Combine has also grown and adapted, but remains the hallmark of accurate prospect scouting for the next NFL draft.