Here’s How NFL Draft Combine Is Changing This Year Due To COVID-19

A very different NFL combine

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January 18, 2021

Major changes are coming to the NFL Scouting Combine.

The combine — the marquee event in the pre-draft process — typically is held in late February/early March in downtown Indianapolis, with thousands of prospects, coaches, scouts, executives, agents and media members flocking the city for the occasion.

For obvious reasons, that type of mass gathering will not be feasible next month.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, the NFL has radically altered the format of its 2021 combine, according to a memo sent to teams Monday and shared by NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.

The most notable change is the elimination of league-run workouts (40-yard dash, vertical jump, positional drills, etc.). Those now will take place at each player’s college pro day, with the NFL working “with the schools to encourage consistency in testing and drills across pro days and ensure that all clubs have access to video from these workouts, irrespective of whether the club is represented at a particular workout.”

All team-prospect interviews will be held virtually, and in-person medical testing — arguably the most important aspect of combine week — will be limited and delayed, likely until early April.

Here is the full league memo:

The scrapping of the traditional combine setup also could have an effect on free agency and the trade market, as the week in Indy features plenty of opportunities for deal-making between agents and team shot-callers. The NFL league year — when teams are allowed to begin trading players and signing outside free agents — typically begins roughly two weeks after the combine ends.

The Senior Bowl, which serves as the unofficial starting point of the pre-draft process, remains on as scheduled, with nearly 150 draft prospects accepting invites to the Jan. 30 all-star game.

The 2021 NFL Draft currently is set to begin April 29 in Cleveland.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images
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