In two days, the National Football League will be holding its inaugural Veteran Combine—but according to Dr. David Chao, the name is actually a misnomer.
At the college Combine held annually in Indianapolis, draft candidates go through a barrage of activities over a period of days in order to be properly evaluated, which take place as much off the field as on it.
When it comes to on the field performance, the Combine is largely used merely to support what your scouting department has already seen on tape. The larger issues to clarify during the event are what you can’t see on the field, and this is what takes place during the medical review and the interview process.
Chao writes for Monday Morning MD, however, that the Veteran Combine will not have a medical portion, nor an interview portion, of the event. It will merely be a glorified workout, which Chao writes is far more akin to a Pro Day than a Combine event.
Many veteran players, of course, do actually return to their schools to attend their Pro Day to work out for teams. This is how Will Johnson was first noticed by the Pittsburgh Steelers after he went unsigned coming out. Tajh Boyd also returned to his alma mater to attend Pro Day, where he met with Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and returned with him and the organization’s brain trust to Pittsburgh to undergo a physical and sign a contract.
Considering that many veteran players end up falling out of rotations and roster due to health reasons, it would seem surprising that there was not at least a medical component to the league’s new Veteran Combine.
Instead, the type of fringe players who get invited to the Combine who do manage to acquire team visits will be forced to undergo individual physicals with every team that they visit, while many teams will be discouraged from even playing host due to the red flags.
The interview process is perhaps not as great a concern, as coaching fraternities are generally well-connected with regard to the reputation of players. If there is an issue significant enough that it needs to be addressed in a sit-down meeting, on which hinges the decision to sign the player, then a visit to the team facility would suffice.
All of this, of course, should not detract from the significance of the Veteran Combine and its potential capacity to grow in the future, and to perhaps help prolong the careers of veteran players who have been cast aside for whatever reason.
The hope is, naturally, for the event to be successful, which would mean that a number of veteran players earn a contract as a direct result of having teams observe their workouts in two days. In that sense, it is like a visit for all 32 teams, at least to give them an opportunity to lay eyes on you. It will be interesting to monitor how the event translates into tangible results for these players.