The NFL’s offseason is not even three weeks old, but the first highlight of the post-Super Bowl schedule has already arrived. After a one-year hiatus, the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine is back.
As has been the case for more than 30 years, the league’s “Underwear Olympics” will take place in Indianapolis; the Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium will once again host the event which was officially kicked off on Monday, February 28, and will run through March 7, when the last position group leaves town again.
The entire NFL — including, of course, the New England Patriots — is in town. So, let’s find out what the Combine is and what will happen over the coming week.
What is the Scouting Combine?
The Combine was originally introduced in the 1980s to create a platform for teams to run college prospects through a series of standardized drills in what is essentially vacuum. Among the founders of the event is former Patriots executive Francis “Bucko” Kilroy.
The first Combine-like event took place in Tampa in 1982. The event was eventually re-named the NFL Scouting Combine and since 1987 is held annually in Indianapolis; the city’s location and at-the-time state-of-the-art RCA Dome were the main factors. Originally only an event open to insiders, it has since evolved into a media spectacle — one that will likely leave Indianapolis in the coming years.
Who is participating in the Scouting Combine?
Dozens of athletes at all positions are invited to the Combine annually. This year, a total of 324 prospects were invited to attend the event — including top prospects such as defensive linemen Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon) and Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan), cornerbacks Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU) and Derek Booth Jr. (Clemson), and offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu (N.C. State).
Not all of them will go through all the drills, however. Some might skip individual drills due to medical or personal reasons. Teams can still watch prospects at their school’s respective pro days, after all.
For a full list of players invited to the 2022 Scouting Combine, please click here.
What is being tested at the Scouting Combine?
Prospects undergo various workouts and examinations to determine their physical and mental makeup two months before the draft. The Combine is only one piece of the puzzle, but it offers teams an opportunity to watch players perform compared to their peers and with the spotlight on them.
The following drills will take place at the event:
- 40-yard dash
- 20-yard shuttle
- 60-yard shuttle
- 3-cone drill
- Vertical jump
- Broad jump
- Bench press
- Position drills
- Team interviews
- Medical examination and injury evaluation
One test previously run at the Combine is no longer part of the event. The controversial Wonderlic test, which aims at measuring cognitive abilities, will no longer be part of the Combine.
What does this year’s schedule look like?
Day 1: Monday, February 28
- Quarterbacks, Wide receivers, Tight ends: Arrival, Registration, Orientation, Interviews
Day 2: Tuesday, March 1
- Quarterbacks, Wide receivers, Tight ends: Medical examination, Interviews
- Running backs, Offensive linemen, Kickers, Special teamers: Arrival, Registration, Orientation, Interviews
Day 3: Wednesday, March 2
- Quarterbacks, Wide receivers, Tight ends: Media availability, Interviews
- Running backs, Offensive linemen, Kickers, Special teamers: Medical examination, Interviews
- Defensive linemen, Linebackers: Arrival, Registration, Orientation, Interviews
Day 4: Thursday, March 3
- Quarterbacks, Wide receivers, Tight ends: On-field drills
- Running backs, Offensive linemen, Kickers, Special teamers: Media availability, Interviews
- Defensive linemen, Linebackers: Medical examination, Interviews
- Defensive backs: Arrival, Registration, Orientation, Interviews
Day 5: Friday, March 4
- Quarterbacks, Wide receivers, Tight ends: Departure
- Running backs, Offensive linemen, Kickers, Special teamers: On-field drills
- Defensive linemen, Linebackers: Media availability, Interviews
- Defensive backs: Medical examination, Interviews
Day 6: Saturday, March 5
- Running backs, Offensive linemen, Kickers, Special teamers: Departure
- Defensive linemen, Linebackers: On-field drills
- Defensive backs: Medical examination, Interviews
Day 7: Sunday, March 6
- Defensive linemen, Linebackers: Departure
- Defensive backs: On-field drills
Day 8: Monday, March 7
- Defensive backs: Departure
What is the broadcast schedule?
The Combine schedule has been altered for this year’s edition, moving some of the drills to primetime. NFL Network will broadcast them and in total air more than 50 hours of live coverage from Indianapolis.
On-field drills will be broadcast at the following times:
- Thursday, March 3, 4 p.m. ET: Quarterbacks, Wide receivers, Tight ends
- Friday, March 4, 4 p.m. ET: Running backs, Offensive linemen, Kickers, Special teamers
- Saturday, March 5, 4 p.m. ET: Defensive linemen, Linebackers
- Sunday, March 6, 2 p.m. ET: Defensive backs
NFL Network will also show three-hour cutdown versions of the drills and show other draft-related content throughout the week. For a full schedule, please click here.
What else happens during Combine week?
The Combine is more than just a series of workouts. It also features media sessions with head coaches and general managers — not among them, however, will be the Patriots’ representatives such as Bill Belichick — as well as a closed-door meeting of the NFL competition committee.
Furthermore, the Combine is seen as the unofficial start of free agency. While the market is not set to open until March 16 this year, the Combine gives teams and agents alike a chance to get together and start off conversations about pending free agents.