There are certain events that have become staples at the NFL Combine. The 40-yard dash, bench press, and vertical are among those events, and according to a piece in USA Today, their days could be numbered.
National Football Scouting Inc., the company that runs the combine (which starts later this week), is putting together a committee complete with league executives, coaches, scouts, trainers and team doctors to review all phases of the combine citing the advancement of technology and sports science as the reason why they're re-evaluating the event.
“Our first focus is to look at what we do currently and making sure that that’s relevant, and if it is, great, we’ll continue to do it, because historical comparison is really important to the evaluation process. But if we believe that there’s something that’s not relevant, then what can we replace it with that will help us evaluate the players?” Jeff Foster, the president of National Football Scouting Inc. explained.
Many coaches, including Bill Belichick, have been vocal about the antiquated events in the combine and how combine prep is a giant waste of time for participants and coaches alike. With the way that technology has advanced, and how more and more NFL teams are adopting advanced technology to assist in decisions that turn out to be multi-million dollar decisions, changes to the way the combine is conducted is a very real possibility.
“We want to make sure that we’re using the technology that’s available. 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.” Foster added.
The NFL is on board with making some changes as well, league spokesman Brian McCarthy explained.
“We’re continuing to explore everything in an effort to improve. So, if there are ways to tweak, improve, modify anything we do, we’ll explore that, and that includes, the combine. The mantra is, how can we get better?”
USA Today points out that several years ago the NFL added a functional movement screen, a baseline neurological test, and a psychological test with the help of general managers to supplement the information garnered by the famed Wonderlic test. So while they may be adapting slowly, they are adapting.
Coaches advocating for changes to the traditional events argue that the events have limited to no actual-game applications because guys sprinting in a straight line for 40 yards just doesn't happen in games, so there have to be some other tests out there that, when coupled with advanced technology, can help NFL franchises make more educated decisions on the futures of their teams. The changes may also help the viewership of the combine itself.