Please understand that the following article is meant in no way to be an indictment of the NFL Combine. Consider it a few after-the-fact observations of the process and some of it’s flaws, both intended and circumstantial.
This year’s Combine had an official list of 330 invitees. This year’s Draft had 253 Picks in it. If you bother to go to the Combine website, nflcombine.net , you will see their stated goal is to include every player who will be drafted at their event. Relatively speaking their performance on that account was better than average in 2017.
My manual count shows 225 players present in Indy out of the 253 actually drafted last weekend in the NFL Player Selection Process. That is an 88.9% success factor. When I was in school that would be a solid B Grade, maybe even B+. But shouldn’t a group of paid professionals be able to come closer to one of their stated goals? Probably so, but in their defense they have a few obstacles to overcome in their efforts to invite the 330 most likely to be Drafted prospects in the country.
One of the biggest factors playing against them is the way the NFL handles declared underclassmen issues. By the time the actual declaration to forfeit eligibility is done and processed, it is almost too late to invite many of those players to an All-Star Game venue for on-field, in-pads scrutiny. So the League buries its head in the sand and prohibits these games from inviting underclassmen to participate. In its first year in existence the NFLPA Game invited a handful of declared underclassmen to their game, and the NFL threatened to fine any member teams that sent their scouts to even watch those players work out. So as a result, almost all of the Underclassmen get invited to the Combine every year, because it helps NFL Personnel people gather a lot of workout numbers in a small amount of time as they play catch-up in evaluating underclassmen. The problem with that practice is that most years only about 2 of every 3 underclassmen declared get drafted. With the number now totaling about 100 players overall each year having declared, it means about 33 invited players take up space that some seniors could have occupied. Chances are that might also inflate the number of Combine participants who actually would get drafted.
It is also an accepted, but not talked about reality, that teams who belong to National Scouting and pay most of their bills with membership fees, are known to request certain players be invited for their particular scouting purposes. I can’t tell you a total number, or percentage of actual draftability of those players, but I would surmise it too, brings down the success rate of draftees to Combine participants. In essence this process overrides the player selections that National’s scouting staff likely recommends for invite.
It has also been mentioned on a regular basis by some, that the relative value of some of the exercise/events that make up the on-field activity at the Combine should be changed or modified from year to year. For instance, why are OL & DL running 40-times. Make it a 20-yard run, with 10-yard splits. But the most commonly voiced complaint about that concept is that doing so would take out long term comparable stats to players of decades ago. That makes some sense, but you can’t redraft DEION SANDERS. The fastest guy at this year’s Combine (John Ross) in the 40 is still the fastest guy out there for this year’s Draft.
Enough already before we end up debating micro-minutia, redundancy intended. Unless several major items are going to change, then I would strongly urge National Scouting & the NFL , just delete the sentence proclaiming their goal to invite every drafted player to the event each year. Why set yourself up for failure and second guessing every single year just because of the nature of the beast.