(Virtual) NFL Combine 101

As most fans already know, the NFL has canceled the 2021 NFL Combine. The league will utilize College Pro Days (full schedule found below) in its place for all workouts and will also conduct all interviews and psychological exams virtually. Unfortunately, this year you won’t be able to tune into the week long event that features the best prospects in the sport competing in various events such as the 40 yard dash, 3 cone drill and high jump, but instead will have a full slate of collegiate pro days that will be televised.

The NFL has informed teams, via a memo obtained by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Monday, that the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine is officially changing formats.

Among the alterations will be no in-person workouts at the combine as they will take place at colleges’ pro days, all interviews and psychological testing will be virtual and there will be limited in-person medical exams.”

Per NFL.com

Right off the bat, the biggest factor with this revised plan is that it is robbing the combine for everything that it stands for. The combine’s purpose was to bring all the best prospects together, side by side, and offer a first hand look through an unbiased lens. All events were timed and judged by the same impartial techniques, with massive amounts of due diligence and care taken into account. Now, prospects will perform at their home campus along with their teammates and coaches surrounding them. Pro Days are nothing new, and through recent history they have been much more beneficial and helpful to most prospects than the combine. It is a great event that can give scouts a true and honest look at how guys will participate within a system and with teammates, but it cannot be seen as a replacement for the combine. Inches will be generously be added to measurements. Nerves will be calmed. 40’s will be faster. And above all, there will be no universal metric that can stack the class up evenly as the combine always did. However, it is all we are getting this year, but is just another reason why this could prove to be one of the most volatile draft classes ever.

The first event that prospects encountered during their week at the combine was having their body measurements taken. This included the obvious, height and weight… and the not so obvious, hand size, wingspan. Why does this matter? Although many measurements can be viewed as overrated, the extremes are really what teams are looking for. Teams want to know if a guy like Kyler Murray is in fact taller than 5’7″ or if Drew Lock’s hands are really as small as they look (like the guy from the Burger King commercial). There is also a high amount of discrepancies with college team’s official roster listings, as many are exaggerated for clout and intimidation. Although it would be nice to have a universal grouping of all of these metrics, this year we will just have to rely on ballpark measurements. The most important to keep an eye on are the weights of the running backs, hand measurements of the quarterbacks, and weight and reach of the lineman. Heights will be skewed all over the place and likely won’t give us much of a perspective change from what we already know.

Another extremely important factor that will effect 2021 is the lack of medical and health reports. The combine was also used as an event that would allow for the league and team doctors to evaluate players with in-depth medical testing. This allowed for teams to judge a players durability as well as uncover unknown and potentially hazardous medical issues. Now teams will have little to no medical insight on these prospect, which just adds to the mystery of the class. When it comes to in-person interviews, I don’t think there will be much of an impact. These interviews will now be conducted virtually, but that is the same as most industries in the country right now…it is what it is.

Below is a list of all scheduled Pro Days.

  • Kansas, March 5
  • Kansas State, March 9
  • Arkansas: Wednesday, March 10
  • Nevada, Thursday, March 11
  • Oklahoma: Friday, March 12
  • North Dakota State: Friday, March 12
  • Pittsburgh: Wednesday, March 17
  • Louisiana Tech: Thursday, March 18
  • Georgia Tech: Thursday, March 18
  • Buffalo: Thursday, March 18
  • Auburn: Thursday, March 18
  • West Virginia: Thursday, March 18
  • Texas Christian: Friday, March 19
  • Memphis: Friday, March 19
  • Colorado State: Monday, March 22
  • Florida State: Monday, March 22
  • Iowa: Monday, March 22
  • Toledo, Monday, March 22
  • Central Michigan: Tuesday, March 23
  • Alabama: Tuesday, March 23
  • Iowa State: Tuesday, March 23
  • Nebraska: Tuesday, March 23
  • Purdue: Tuesday, March 23
  • Michigan State: Wednesday, March 24
  • South Carolina: Wednesday, March 24
  • Western Michigan: Thursday, March 25
  • UMass: Thursday, March 25
  • North Texas: Thursday, March 25
  • Mississippi: Thursday, March 25
  • SMU: Thursday, March 25
  • Penn State: Thursday, March 25
  • San Diego State: Thursday, March 25
  • Western Michigan: Thursday, March 25
  • Boston College:Friday, March 26
  • BYU: Friday, March 26
  • Virginia Tech:Friday, March 26
  • South Dakota State:Friday, March 26
  • Michigan: Friday, March 26
  • North Carolina: Monday, March 29
  • Duke: Monday, March 29
  • Louisiana-Lafayette: Monday, March 29
  • Miami (Fla.): Monday, March 29
  • Miami (OH.): Monday, March 29
  • Louisville: Tuesday, March 30
  • Washington: Tuesday, March 30
  • Boise State: Wednesday, March 31
  • Florida: Wednesday, March 31
  • Notre Dame: Wednesday, March 31
  • Kentucky: Wednesday, March 31
  • South Florida: Thursday, April 1
  • Oklahoma State: Thursday, April 1
  • Charlotte, Thursday, April 1
  • Houston: Friday, April 9

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