Guest Author - Mona McKenzie
Since 1982, the NFL has invited some of the nation’s top college football athletes to workout for teams. Initially, the focus of the “National Invitational Camp (NIC)” was to allow teams to easily gather medical information on potential draft prospects. Three years later, all 28 teams decided to participate in the annual NIC caucus. In 1987, NIC found a permanent home in Indianapolis, resulting in what is now called the NFL Scouting Combine.
Approximately 300 players are currently showcasing their talent at Lucas Oil Stadium from February 24th through March 2nd. Typically, invited players consist of college seniors who have exhausted their collegiate eligibility and are voted in by a selection committee. Further, a few college juniors who meet certain criteria and have declared their intent to enter the Draft may be invited as well.
Players partake in four days of medical, psychological and written examinations, as well as on-field drills, so GM’s, head coaches, and scouts can assess their talent as it relates to long-term success in the NFL. This is truly a stressful time for all attendees. A great Combine showing can directly lead to a higher draft position, more money and dreams fulfilled. For players on the fringe of the draft bubble, a poor Combine showing could diffuse any hopes of making it to the next level via the draft. Needless to say, every player wants to make a positive splash at the Combine. However, it is important to note that participating in the Combine is not a requirement for being drafted into or playing in the NFL…just ask Miles Austin of the Dallas Cowboys.
NFL Network has the privilege of hosting the Combine, with Rich Eisen, Charles Davis, and Mike Mayock on location. Mayock has great insight into the Combine and is especially good at explaining the logic behind each drill. Moreover, Mayock provides comments while players are performing a drill, giving the average viewer useful information when comparing player talent levels. Some of the skill drills will be shown live. If you don’t see a drill live, chances are you can catch the replay later in the evening after “Total Access.” On-set player interviews are also a key component of NFL Network’s coverage, giving you an opportunity to find out more about a player who may end up on your favorite team.
Defensive backs, offensive and defensive linemen, and wide receivers usually comprise the core of Combine attendees. This year, marquee players such as Tim Tebow, Dez Bryant, Jermaine Gresham, Javhid Best, Russell Okung, Ndamukong Suh and Taylor Mays are scheduled to participate. It should be fun to watch.
Now that you’ve watched some of the nation’s elite college athletes compete at the Combine, be sure to tune into the 75th Annual NFL Draft April 22nd through April 24th as these athletes start the next chapter of their football careers.