The NFL Scouting Combine moves to primetime this year, which frankly is still a bit hard for me to believe, but, you know, good for the league, right? With the change in time slots also comes some changes to the way things are run, some you’ll see and some you won’t.
For example, starting this year, teams will now be permitted to interview prospects for 18 minutes, up from 15, but now they will only be allowed to meet formally with 45 players rather than 60. This makes Pro Day visits and things like that more important in terms of quantitative information-gathering that raises to the level greater than informal meetings.
More obvious will be the changes on the field. For instance, there will be 16 new drills during the Combine beginning this year, some of them being introduced at the expense of others. And one of those drills is named after Pittsburgh Steelers senior defensive assistant Teryl Austin. As described in an NFL.com article:
First, a player will back pedal five yards, then open and break downhill on a 45 degree angle before catching a thrown ball. Then a player will back pedal five yards, open at 90 degrees and run to the first coach and break down, then plant and turn around (180 degrees) to run toward a second coach and catch a ball from thrown by a QB before reaching the second coach.
This is one of four new drills introduced for the defensive backs, with two being eliminated. You can click through the link above if you want to get the specific details about what is in and out for every position group before you tun in to watch for yourself.
Teryl Austin is a Pittsburgh graduate and area native whose coaching career began as a graduate assistant at Penn State in the early 90s. he broke into the NFL ranks in the early 2000s as a defensive backs coach, which has been his primary position in the league.
He did spend a handful of years as the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions, and then for half a season in 2018 with the Cincinnati Bengals before he was fired mid-year. The Steelers hired him last offseason as a senior defensive assistant working with the secondary, but he also has other gameday responsibilities, such as advising Mike Tomlin about challenges and situational football.
While not in name, it seems as though, more or less, Austin served as the primary defensive backs coach for the Steelers in 2019, over Tom Bradley, who was hired the year before and nominally holds that title. The two work in tandem to coach up the secondary.