How Does the NFL Scouting Combine Work: Complete Guide

How Does the NFL Scouting Combine Work

The NFL Scouting Combine is an annual event where college football players showcase their physical and mental abilities to NFL teams. Here’s how it generally works:

  • Invitations: The NFL invites top college football prospects to participate in the combine based on their performance and potential in college football. Players typically receive invitations based on recommendations from college coaches and scouting reports.
  • Medical Evaluations: Players undergo thorough medical examinations to assess their physical health and injury history. NFL team doctors and medical staff conduct these evaluations to identify any existing or potential health issues that could affect a player’s performance or draft stock.
  • Measurements: Players’ height, weight, arm length, hand size, and other physical measurements are recorded. These measurements provide important data for NFL teams to evaluate a player’s size and physical attributes relative to their position.
  • Testing: Players participate in a series of physical tests and drills to assess their athletic abilities. These tests include the 40-yard dash (speed), bench press (strength), vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill, and shuttle run (agility and quickness). The results of these tests help NFL teams evaluate a player’s speed, strength, explosiveness, agility, and overall athleticism. Read about What Does Punt Mean in a Game
  • Position-Specific Drills: Players also participate in position-specific drills designed to showcase their skills and technique relevant to their respective positions. Quarterbacks throw passes, wide receivers run routes, defensive backs backpedal and cover receivers, and so on.
  • Interviews and Psychological Testing: NFL teams conduct interviews with players to assess their football knowledge, character, work ethic, and personality. Players may also undergo psychological testing to evaluate their mental toughness and ability to handle the pressures of playing in the NFL.
  • Media and Publicity: The NFL Scouting Combine attracts significant media coverage, with reporters and analysts closely following the performances of top prospects and providing insights into potential draft picks.
  • Draft Implications: The results of the combine can significantly impact a player’s draft stock. Strong performances in testing and drills can improve a player’s standing among NFL teams, while poor performances or injury concerns may cause a player’s stock to drop.

The NFL Scouting Combine serves as a crucial event in the pre-draft evaluation process, allowing NFL teams to gather valuable information about college prospects and make informed decisions leading up to the NFL Draft.

NFL Scouting Combine

The NFL Scouting Combine, commonly referred to as the Combine, serves as an annual event held in Indianapolis, Indiana. It typically takes place in late February to early March, drawing significant attention from football enthusiasts, analysts, and the media alike. The Combine serves as a pivotal moment for college football players looking to make their mark in the NFL.

Scouting Combine
Scouting Combine

Purpose and Importance of the Combine

At its core, the NFL Scouting Combine serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it provides NFL teams with an opportunity to evaluate the physical and mental attributes of potential draft prospects. Additionally, it allows teams to conduct interviews with players, gaining insight into their character, intelligence, and football IQ.

Events and Activities at the Combine

Physical Testing

The Combine features various physical tests designed to assess the athleticism and physical prowess of participants. These tests include the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 3 cone drill, and shuttle run.

40-Yard Dash

The 40-yard dash serves as one of the most highly anticipated events at the Combine, showcasing the speed and acceleration of participants.

Bench Press

The bench press measures a player’s upper body strength, with prospects aiming to complete as many repetitions as possible at 225 pounds.

Vertical Jump

The vertical jump evaluates a player’s explosiveness and lower body power, measuring how high they can jump from a standing position.

Broad Jump

Similar to the vertical jump, the broad jump assesses a player’s explosiveness and lower body strength, measuring the distance they can jump from a stationary position.

3 Cone Drill

The 3 cone drill tests a player’s agility, change of direction, and acceleration as they navigate through a series of cones in a specific pattern.

Shuttle Run

The shuttle run, also known as the 20-yard shuttle, evaluates a player’s lateral quickness and agility as they shuttle between two points.

Position-Specific Drills

In addition to the physical tests, the Combine includes position-specific drills tailored to the various positions in football, allowing coaches and scouts to assess players’ skills and techniques.

Scouting Combine Work
Scouting Combine Work

Interviews and Psychological Testing

Beyond the physical assessments, teams conduct interviews and psychological testing to gain a deeper understanding of a player’s personality, character, and mental makeup. These interactions play a significant role in determining a player’s suitability for the rigors of professional football.

Who Participates in the NFL Scouting Combine?

The NFL Scouting Combine invites a select group of college football players each year, typically comprising the top prospects at their respective positions. Invitations are extended based on recommendations from NFL teams, scouting reports, and college performance.

How Players are Selected for the Combine?

Players eligible for the NFL Draft are typically invited to the Combine based on their performance during their college careers, recommendations from coaches and scouts, and potential demonstrated during postseason All-Star games.

Impact of the Combine on Players’ Draft Stock

The performances of players at the NFL Scouting Combine can have a significant impact on their draft stock. Impressive displays in the physical tests and position-specific drills can elevate a player’s status and increase their likelihood of being selected higher in the draft.

Evolution and Changes in the Combine Over Time

The NFL Scouting Combine has evolved over the years, with changes in the format, testing procedures, and technology used to evaluate players. These changes reflect the ongoing efforts to improve the accuracy and reliability of player assessments.

Football Match
Football Match

Controversies Surrounding the NFL Scouting Combine

Despite its significance in the evaluation process, the NFL Scouting Combine is not without its controversies. Critics argue that certain tests may not accurately reflect a player’s on-field abilities, while others question the psychological testing methods employed.


In conclusion, the NFL Scouting Combine serves as a pivotal event in the journey of college football players aspiring to play at the professional level. It provides a platform for athletes to showcase their talents, while also offering NFL teams valuable insights into the potential of future prospects.


  • Is the NFL Scouting Combine open to the public?
    • No, the NFL Scouting Combine is primarily an invitation-only event for NFL teams, accredited media, and select guests.
  • How long does the NFL Scouting Combine last?
    • The Combine typically spans over several days, with different position groups participating on different days.
  • Are players required to participate in every event at the Combine?
    • While players are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the Combine, they have the option to skip certain drills or tests if they choose.
  • Do performances at the NFL Scouting Combine guarantee success in the NFL?
    • While a strong showing at the Combine can improve a player’s draft stock, success in the NFL ultimately depends on a combination of talent, work ethic, and opportunity.
  • Are there any alternative events similar to the NFL Scouting Combine?
    • Yes, there are various regional combines and pro days hosted by colleges and universities where players can showcase their skills for NFL scouts.

Leave a Comment