The 2021 NFL Scouting Combine is reportedly expected to undergo massive changes with several different regional events rather than a single prospect showcase in Indianapolis.
Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported Friday the NFL held a conference call with team officials and medical personnel to lay out the working plan, which calls for regionalized medical checks, more formal pro days and Zoom meetings in order to avoid a singular large gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The league is aiming to have sites in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas to provide hubs for medical testing, and it will set up official stations at pro days so it can provide accurate information to teams based on the physical events, such as the 40-yard dash, per Breer.
There have also been discussions about potentially moving the combine from late February to April, which could allow for a larger-scale event depending on the pace of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. However, the NFL is hesitant to move the draft (set for April 29 through May 1) to make that work.
Breer noted league officials are expected to meet again next week to finalize the plans.
The combine is typically one of the marquee stops during draft season.
It's the one opportunity to see the top prospects go head-to-head in physical testing and positional drills. It also provides a neutral playing field compared to pro days, which are heavily scripted to help the school's players deliver a strong performance.
For those reasons, there's a good chance the combine returns in its normal capacity starting in 2022, especially since it became a major prime-time TV event for the NFL in recent years.
Teams should still be able to obtain all of the necessary information through the revised format to prepare them for the draft, but it won't be the same as the spectacle in Indy.