How Does The NFL Scouting Combine Work?

How Does The NFL Scouting Combine Work

Every college football player dreams of making it to the NFL. Participating in the NFL Scouting Combine to showcase their talents to scouts is a key part of their journey to the pros. Keep reading to learn how the NFL Scouting Combine helps college players get noticed.

NFL Scouting Combine

The NFL Scouting Combine is a four-day showcase giving all 32 NFL teams the opportunity to assess the talent of the top college players. First held in 1987, the combine has been held every year except one at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is typically held in late February or early March, about two months prior to the NFL Draft.

Each NFL team usually sends one or more scouts, either from their in-house staff or hired from a national scouting organization. In addition to viewing the open evaluations, each team is permitted to conduct 15-minute interviews with up to 60 individual players. Scouts compile information based on the results of the drills, tests, physical assessments, and interview responses to figure out which players could provide the biggest assets to their teams. Ultimately, the information collected by scouts at the NFL combine is used to formulate each team’s strategy in the NFL Draft.

Format of the NFL Combine

The NFL Scouting Combine consists of 13 different rounds of drills and assessments conducted over four days. The drills are meant to evaluate players’ football skills, while interviews and tests score their physical and mental abilities. Position-specific drills are scheduled on certain days, allowing scouts to focus on one position at a time.

Qualifying For the NFL Scouting Combine

There are three ways a player may qualify for the NFL Scouting Combine:

  • All college seniors are automatically qualified after their last year of college eligibility.
  • Underclassmen may qualify if they meet NFL and NCAA combine requirements.
  • Non-football athletes may qualify in their natural draft year by verifying their eligibility with the NFL’s Player Personnel Department.

Although a player may qualify for the combine, they must be selected by the NFL and receive an invitation to attend.

Player Selection Process

Out of the qualified players, participants in the NFL Scouting Combine are chosen by the Player Selection Committee. The committee is made up of front-office staff from various NFL teams and scouts from the biggest national football scouting agencies. By casting votes for various player positions, the Player Selection Committee chooses around 300 players to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine.

NFL Combine Evaluations

Here is a complete list of the evaluations and assessments that make up the NFL Scouting Combine:

  • 40-yard dash
  • 225-pound bench press
  • Vertical jump
  • Broad jump
  • 20-yard shuttle
  • Three-cone drill
  • Position-specific drills
  • Interviews
  • Physical and injury evaluation
  • Drug screening
  • Cybex test (joint flexibility assessment)
  • Wonderlic test (intellectual function assessment)


How many players get invited to the NFL Scouting Combine?

Around 300 players are typically invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. Although some years there are a few more, the NFL’s Player Selection Committee votes to pare down the pool of draft-eligible players to the best 300 or so.

What is the purpose of the NFL Scouting Combine?

The NFL Scouting Combine gives each of the 32 NFL teams a chance to evaluate the top draft prospects based on physical, mental, and medical criteria. The combine is an easy way to get all of the league’s scouts and the top college players in one place, and it gives each team a fair chance of scouting the best players.

Is the NFL Scouting Combine open to the public?

The NFL Scouting Combine is open to the public. Each day, 10,000 fans are allowed to watch the players compete in various drills. Tickets are free on the NFL’s website, and fans may register for up to five tickets for each of the combine’s four days.