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A Long Time NFL Scout Discussed Misconceptions vs. Reality at the NFL Scouting Combine

The NFL Combine is an event made for TV. The drills are generally less important than what you hear from all the social media analysts. Most of the hype is created to generate buzz—a fact I've mentioned for years. Another aspect is that the NFL Combine provides additional data points for evaluators to consider and compare to the film. It's all about matching your initial thoughts prior to the noise, or lack thereof, due to a 40-yard dash time or a remarkable vertical jump. If you actually watch the film of the players participating in the NFL Combine, you will not be surprised by their explosive, or not-so-explosive, 40 times and vertical jumps. What really matters are the player interviews with front-office personnel, coaches, and GMs and the medical evaluations.

What really matters at the NFL Combine

In a recent article written by Greg Gabriel, much of this was confirmed by Greg Gabriel, a reputable name in NFL scouting circles. Gabriel shared his thoughts on how actual NFL teams view the NFL Combine. Below, I provide a summarized version of Gabriel's thoughts. For more detailed insights, you can read the full article on SB Nation's Windy City Gridiron, linked in the text.

Misconceptions vs. Reality at the NFL Scouting Combine

In the article, Greg Gabriel reveals the common misunderstandings and truths about the NFL Scouting Combine. He clarifies that the widespread belief of players dramatically improving their draft stock based only on their combine performance is more of a media creation than reality. In fact, NFL teams do not usually alter a player's evaluation significantly based on their combine exercises, which mainly consist of non-football-specific athletic drills.

Evaluating Performances May Prompt A Second Look

Gabriel explains that while excellent performances are anticipated, subpar performances can lead to concerns, prompting scouts to reassess their initial opinions. However, an outstanding performance typically triggers a second look at the player's game footage rather than an instant elevation in draft prospects. He also observes that despite post-combine hype for some players, dramatic leaps in draft positioning are infrequent.

Key Elements of the Combine

According to Gabriel, the pivotal components of the combine are the medical assessments and the player interviews. The combine primarily exists to provide thorough medical examinations for the athletes, offering teams valuable health information. Although the interview portion is brief, it offers crucial insights into the players' personalities and can greatly influence a team's interest.

Advice on Skipping Workouts

Gabriel advises against avoiding combine workouts, arguing that participating offers a chance to rectify any poor performances at subsequent Pro Days. He uses Devin Hester as an example, who improved his draft prospects by bettering his time at his Pro Day following a less impressive combine showing.

Significance of Specific Drills

He points out that the importance of drills varies by position. For example, speed and agility are vital for skill positions, while vertical jumps and agility drills are critical for receivers to showcase their explosiveness and body control.

Quarterback Workouts at the Combine

Gabriel mentions that the quarterback drills at the combine are not as significant, given that the format does not allow quarterbacks to fully demonstrate their skills. He suggests that evaluations during Pro Days and private workouts are more reflective of a quarterback's true abilities.

The NFL Combine Is Not A Definitive Factor In A Player's NFL Draft Outcome

Gabriel's insights highlight NFL teams' internal processes and viewpoints regarding the combine. He emphasizes that while the combine is a crucial element of the scouting process, it is not the definitive factor in a player’s draft outcome.

About Greg Gabriel Per The Website Windy City Gridiron

Greg Gabriel has over three decades of experience working in the NFL, including stints in the front office with the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, and Chicago Bears, where he was Director of College Scouting. Greg has done countless media appearances over the years and brought his unique scouting eye to Windy City Gridiron in 2022.


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