NFL to Evaluate Scouting Combine Tests for Potential Changes

Daniel KramerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24: General view of the NFL shield logo in the end zone as a player rests during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The NFL plans to take a look at the various phases of its annual scouting combine to determine if changes are necessary.

National Football Scouting Inc. runs the combine and will form a committee of executives, scouts, coaches and others to help make its assessment, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today.

The organization's president, Jeff Foster, talked about the approach, per Pelissero:

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?

Foster said the committee will also review psychological and medical evaluations in addition to the performance drills. This year's event—on-field workouts begin Fridaywill primarily serve as an observation phase. 

Through the years, the long-practiced drills—such as the 40-yard dash, shuttle runs and broad jump—have been questioned in regard to how they help teams gauge talent. 

Players spend months training for these drills, but many believe it's a waste of time, including New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick

"I think that's a huge mistake that a lot of those players make, but I'm sure they have their reasons for doing it," Belichick said last week, per Doug Kyed of "We're training our players to play football, not to go through a bunch of those February drills."

Pete Prisco of echoed that sentiment, saying the truest evaluations of talent come from examining in-game performances:

Pelissero pointed out that the drills serve as a prism through which historical comparisons can be made, but he added new data could provide the same effect.

"The sooner the league starts collecting new kinds of data, the sooner it could amass enough to draw comparisons and learn from bad outcomes—a process many teams are going through with their in-house projects now," Pelissero wrote.

This isn't the first time the NFL has broached the possibility of making changes to the combine, but Foster's initiative appears to have already gained traction. The NFL draft is the best way for franchises to bolster their personnel, and teams are developing their own methods for assessing players' talents. Expanding such practices league-wide should help create a more uniform process.