The big business machine that is the NFL has managed to make a television event out of the annual scouting combine. But regardless of how one feels about watching a series of college players running 40-yard dashes and three-cone drills in shorts, the combine is doubtlessly an important part in draft preparations for NFL teams.
However, as a result of COVID-19, the status of this year’s combine is in doubt. Within the next week or so, the league will decide whether there will be a combine and, if so, what form it will take, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes.
The combine has been held in Indianapolis every year since 1987, and the league could hold it in a “reduced form” on its regularly scheduled date and location in February (presumably, that simply means fewer players would be invited). The league could also push it back to April or simply hold a series of regional combines.
Since the combine is typically the first major event of the offseason calendar, any delay could impact the start of free agency, the draft, etc. And as Matt Miller of Bleacher Report observes (via Twitter), any change to the combine will increase the importance of the Senior Bowl and collegiate pro days (assuming they’re allowed).
Most importantly, as ESPN’s Kevin Seifert notes, this means that COVID-19 protocols are not going away and will be a factor for most of the offseason, if not all of it (Twitter link).