NFL Combine 2021: Key Changes

The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t able to bring the NFL’s regular season to a halt in 2020, but it did force the league to make some alterations. That weaving through the pandemic looks like it’ll continue through the 2021 offseason, particularly with the NFL Scouting Combine. A memo sent to all 32 teams on Monday noted that the Combine “will be conducted in a different format.”

The major change is that there will be no in-person workouts held at the Combine this year. Instead, any workouts will take place during individual pro days on college campuses. The league stated in the memo that they will work with the schools to encourage consistency “in testing and drills across pro days and ensure that all clubs have access to video from those workouts, irrespective of whether the club is represented at a particular workout.”

They are also working to obtain medical information about all the prospects who would ordinarily be invited to the Combine, which will include testing done at medical facilities near the prospect is currently residing. In special cases, there will be in-person follow-up examinations that likely occur in early April. Under those circumstances, each club will be allowed to send one physician and one athletic trainer to conduct those in-person exams, which will likely occur over a two or three-day period.

As for team interviews with prospects, those will be done virtually instead of in-person.

The Combine has been a staple to the NFL offseason dating back to 1982 and moved permanently to Indianapolis in 1987. Under normal circumstances, Lucas Oil Stadium would play host to not only one of the key evaluation points during the pre-draft process, but it was one of the more interactive periods between teams, which could alter some offseason deals as well.

I see none of this as helping a team that desperately needs to upgrade its talent through the draft.

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I think the combine puts an emphasis on the wrong things and it leads to more mistakes than anything else.

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Limited game tape against in some cases depleted rosters or inferior competition, plus a combine that will not be as useful as the past. Plus some top level talent that took a year off (remember Fat Mike Williams?)

Not sure if this signals drafting more based on game tape or intangibles like interview, ability to learn etx.

Its my opinion that teams overthink things when it comes to the draft, and many of them would do better with less information at their disposal. Hell, the tipping point that made the Bears jump at the chance to draft Mitch Seabiscuit was the type of car he drove. WTF?

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Whisker Biscuit-

Totally unusable one week every month, the other 3 weeks, takes a lot of resources to keep from stinking. You think it’s worth the trouble whenever there is a great performance, but so much drama makes you tear your hair out…

Hopefully the scout we hired will be able to work around all of this due to his scouting abilities.

I feel like the younger guys won’t miss a beat. Its the old dinosaurs who might have some issues adjusting.

I wonder how they are going to handle the medical evaluations? That was the main driver behind the beginning of a centralized combine.

likely longer interviews ,an then follow up at pro days never saw anything about personal visits …i mean if the player visits the browns does he have to wait 14 days to visit lions? or Pitt

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Totally. It happens across a lot of different disciplines too, not just the draft. It’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of anything. I’ve told this story, but my brother used to work for a brokerage firm who employed a ‘forest through the trees’ guy to ensure they didn’t lose the big picture.

I think this is very true.

The combine should just be a way of confirming what you thought prior to going in and really just getting to know the player.