Tom Pelissero at USA Today reports that the NFL is considering changes to the NFL Scouting Combine make the event more relevant to scouts and coaches.
“No, a quarterback’s throwing session on the field won’t be swapped for one in a virtual reality environment anytime soon. But the days of players training for months to score high in tests such as the 40-yard dash, vertical leap and bench press – sometimes derided as the ‘Underwear Olympics’ – could be numbered.”
Changes to the Combine is a topic that has gained steam in recent years. For instance, Matt Birk, the NFL’s director of player development, addressed the topic about this time last year:
“‘That’s a project we’ll be working on this offseason,’ Birk said, according to espn.com. ‘Once we look at the data that was gathered in-game this year, it may be important to know how fast a wide receiver or defensive back can go 60 yards. Maybe for an offensive lineman it’s only 20 yards. We can actually see that in-game: How far are these guys running? What are the real or improved measures of importance and value as it relates to evaluating players and whether or not they should be drafted in the first round or the sixth round?'”
So, you can’t just look at the 20 yard split for an offensive lineman and see how fast he ran that distance?
If all the athletes did was run the 40 yard dash and do the long jump, I might think that there was a point to this. But, as Pelissero points out, that’s not all they do. Quarterbacks throw, receivers run routes, linemen do drills in the same way they would at a pro day. And there’s value to that. If you want to disregard the distance that an offensive lineman jumps, disregard it.
Something tells me that this is going to be one of those situations where the NFL and National Football Scouting Inc., which runs the Combine, put their heads together and, after lots of talk that goes nowhere, decides that no changes are in order. And I’m not entirely sure they won’t be right.