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Scouting The 2011 NFL Combine: The Arrival

This week, a select group of the very best college players will attend the National Invitational Camp (NIC), or more familiarly, the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine. Beginning February 23rd and lasting through March 1st at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, the NFL will commence it's annual testing period for aspiring employees. 332 prospects were invited this year for the chance to realize their dream of becoming an NFL Football player. Coaches, executives, scouts and doctors from each NFL team conduct an intense, four-day examination of each candidate to see if they are strong enough, fast enough, healthy enough and intelligent enough to improve their team. Not all will make it. Last year's draft saw 255 players selected so roughly 70 kids will have to take their chances in the Free Agency period after the draft.

The Scouting Combine's history goes back to around 1977. There were scouts before that, but this was when the National Football Scouting, Inc. first conducted a camp for its member NFL clubs in Tampa, Florida. At the time. there were two other scouting services, BLESTO and Quadra. By 1985, it was decided that a central location and cooperated participation between the three groups would be cost effective for all involved. At it's inception, the NIC was attended by a total of 163 players. It has since doubled the invitation list. For a little more history, there is an insightful piece chronicled here.

The Original primary purpose of the Combine was to glean a thorough medical evaluation of the finest athletes in college football. Since then, scouting and player evaluation have evolved. Not only will each candidate have a complete medical assessment, but they will also suffer examination through psychological tests and physical trials. After that, they will be interviewed by NFL team executives, coaches and scouts to test their personal character and see how much Football Intelligence (FBI) they possess. The players will stay at a hotel within walking distance of the RCA Dome. After dinner on Thursday, they will get a brief orientation on how to conduct themselves in the coming weeks.

NFL Teams spent a whopping $160 million just on signing bonuses for last year's first-round picks, so you can bet they want to make sure they know what they're getting in a player. Having equal opportunity to rate player prospects in a controlled setting under the same conditions gives parity to the whole selection process for the league. And you know the NFL tries to associate itself with the word "parity."

To qualify for the Combine, you must be invited. There is a committee is made up of scouting directors or general managers from the different NFL teams who vote on each player invited. The committee chairman is Jeff Foster, who runs both National Scouting and the Indianapolis Combine.

Greg Gabriel of the NFP, wrote about the positional breakdown of players invited to the Combine:

In most years, the list looks similar to this.

Note: the actual number of invites this year are in parentheses

18-20 - Quarterbacks (18)
45-50 - Wide receivers (46)
20 - Tight ends/H-Backs (16)
45-50 - Offensive linemen - Tackles (33), Guards (14)
25-30 - Running backs (34) Fullbacks (5)
55-60 - Defensive linemen - Ends (30), Tackles/Nose (27)
35 - Linebackers - Inside (14), Outside (18)
55-60 - Defensive backs - Cornerbacks (35), Free Safety (11), Strong Safety (10)
8-10 - Kickers and Punters (9)
2-3 - Long Snappers (1)

Here is the General Player Schedule for the week:

February 23rd – March 1st, 2011
23th-26th Day 1 Arrivals*: Grp 1 (PK, ST, OL), Grp 2 (OL), Grp 3 (TE)
Wednesday Travel, Registration, Pre-exam & X-ray, Orientation, Interviews
Thursday Measurements, Exams, Media, Psych Tests, Interviews
Friday NFLPA Meeting, Psych Tests, *PK/ST Workout*, Interviews
Saturday Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure

24th-27th Day 2 Arrivals*: Grp 4 (QB, WR), Grp 5 (QB, WR), Grp 6 (RB)
Thursday Travel, Registration, Pre-exam & X-ray, Orientation, Interviews
Friday Measurements, Exams, Media, Psych Tests, Interviews
Saturday NFLPA Meeting, Psych Tests, Interviews
Sunday Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure

25th-28th Day 3 Arrivals: Grp 7 (DL), Grp 8 (DL), Grp 9 (LB)
Friday Travel, Registration, Pre-exam & X-ray, Orientation, Interviews
Saturday Measurements, Exams, Media, Psych Tests, Interviews
Sunday NFLPA Meeting, Psych Tests, Interviews
Monday Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure

26th-1st Day 4 Arrivals: Grp 10 (DB), Grp 11 (DB)
Saturday Travel, Registration, Pre-exam & X-ray, Orientation, Interviews
Sunday Measurements, Exams, Media, Psych Tests, Interviews
Monday NFLPA Meeting, Psych Tests, Interviews
Tuesday Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure

*Select players from any Group arriving the first three days (Groups 1-9), may arrive one day prior to their scheduled date listed above in order to assist with medical scheduling. This will be based on flight schedules and medical tests only and no players arriving early will have advanced contact with teams.

The Media will also get their chance to blow things out of proportion interview players.

  • Player groups will be available for interviews on the following days:
  • Thursday, Feb. 24: Offensive Linemen, Kickers, Punters, Long Snappers, Tight Ends
  • Friday, Feb. 25: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers
  • Saturday, Feb. 26: Defensive Linemen, Linebacker
  • Sunday, Feb. 27: Defensive Backs

Stay tuned for the next Scouting the Combine segment where I will address some of the testing that will take place during Combine Week. Until then...

Go Broncos!