Football Basics – The Combine

Football Basics: NFL Combine

What is the NFL scouting combine?

Short answer: Large athletic men running around in tight clothes.

Longer answer: An annual event held by the NFL to evaluate top league prospects. Affectionately referred to as the “Underwear Olympics,” the NFL combine is an opportunity for college athletes to impress NFL personnel through a series of physical and mental tests.

Today we’re answering some of your basic questions about the combine so that when you see pictures of large men in tight clothes, you know what just went down.


Where is the combine held?

Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. Eventually it will be moved to Los Angeles.


Who goes to the NFL combine?

Typically about 335 of college football’s best athletes. The combine is invite-only and participants are determined by a selection committee that votes on each player. Some players with injury concerns choose not to attend.


What kind of physical tests do the players go through?

The 40-yard dash, the bench press, the vertical jump, the broad jump, 3 cone drill, the shuttle run, and position-specific drills. The players are also physically measured and undergo drug screenings and physical evaluations.


What else do the combine participants go through?

Team interviews – Each team gets 15 minutes with up to 60 participants. Each participant can have up to 15 interviews. Coaches and team management put participants through the ringer, asking questions about everything from their performances in college games to their personal lives. (Jenny Vrentas of MMQB gives us an insider’s view of one of these interviews in this post.) Players also take the Wonderlic test, which is an intelligence test used to test their aptitude for problem-solving.


What is it like to participate in the combine?

Obviously, I don’t have a personal experience to share here, but here’s a really great first-hand account from The Players’ Tribune.


Does participating in the combine guarantee a player will be drafted?

No. In fact, sometimes a poor combine performance can hurt a player’s chances of being drafted. About 250 players are drafted each year, so if you do the math, there will definitely not be enough draft spots to go around for all the combine participants.


What’s the future of the combine?

Lots of people question how well combine activities predict a player’s future success in the NFL. For instance, the 40-yard dash probably means less for an offensive lineman than it does for a running back due to the nature of the position. Many teams place more weight on college performance and interviews than the combine’s physical tests.


What else goes on at the combine?

There are lots of press conferences by coaches/GMs/team personnel types, in addition to behind-the-scenes schmoozing and talks with agents of players.


What’s The Snap’s take on the combine?

Eh, take it or leave it. The meat market feel is a bit of a turnoff and no one really wants to see some of those linemen in tiny tight UnderArmour. Sports media hypes it up too much because their news cycle is pretty slow this time of year for the NFL. We understand how aspects of the combine would be really helpful for teams in their decision-making, especially the interview time, but we’re not seeing any of that stuff on camera.


For more info about the combine, check out this site and this site, both of which I used to help write this post. 

– Michelle