The Scouting Combine

Feb 25, 2023 15:02:15 GMT -6 3 Replies
The Scouting Combine has become an oddly big, televised event on the NFL’s offseason schedule. For younger fans that’s all they’ve known of the event. It wasn’t always like that. It used to be a very secret thing. There were no cameras and no news. It was as if draft prospects and team decision-makers disappeared into a black hole for a few days. That was a very different time. This is a brief look into the origins of the Scouting Combine.

Thanks to then Philadelphia Eagles owner Bert Bell, the NFL Draft was introduced in 1936. At the time, all of the best college prospects gravitated to the league’s best teams. The Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, and New York Giants annually re-stocked and played for championships. The rest of the league’s teams collected scraps and hoped for the best. Today’s college football isn’t much different from the NFL’s pre-draft days. There had to be a better way of spreading the football talent more evenly and more fairly across the league. Bell suggested the draft. George Halas, Curly Lambeau, and Tim Mara reluctantly agreed. For the first few decades, scouting for the draft was an afterthought. Today’s average fantasy football participant takes part in their drafts far more prepared than those NFL team decision-makers did for their real drafts. Coaches and owners would show up to the draft and just randomly pluck names out of a college football magazine. Maybe a few of them had hot tips from friends in the college coaching ranks. There were no scouts. The first true scouts didn’t appear until the late 1940s and 1950s. Ed Kotal is generally regarded as the first person in league history to travel, watch, and evaluate college football talent. He helped build the Los Angeles Rams into an annual contender and league champion in 1951. Dick Gallagher and Sarge MacKenzie helped stock the powerful Cleveland Browns. A little later, Jack Vainisi built the Green Bay Packers team that Vince Lombardi took to ridiculous heights in the 1960s.

It’s difficult to imagine a time when football scouting was an afterthought. One of the hardships of football scouting, especially thorough scouting, is the size of this country and the number of colleges, at all levels, that pepper it. To cover it all is an incredibly daunting task. With hundreds of colleges to visit and thousands of players to see and limited resources to cover them, NFL teams started to enter into partnerships to share the costs and labor. Imagine that. NFL teams working together, sharing resources and information in an effort to get better. It’s inconceivable. Two of these partnerships began in 1963. One was the Lions, Steelers, Eagles Talent Organization, LESTO. The Bears joined in 1964 and LESTO magically became BLESTO. The Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, and St. Louis Cardinals formed National Football Scouting (NFS). In 1964, the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, and expansion New Orleans Saints formed a partnership that would come to be known as Quadra Scouting. The Minnesota Vikings joined BLESTO in 1966. Jerry Reichow insisted the team join as a condition of his becoming the team’s director of scouting. The Vikings are still with BLESTO and Mitch Johnson-Martin is the team’s BLESTO scout. All of the NFL teams were part of some scouting partnership during the 1960s.

Prior to the 1970s, NFL teams didn’t typically give physical exams to draft prospects. Medically, the teams had little to no knowledge of the players that they were selecting. During the 1970s, that started to change as teams scheduled individual visits with draft prospects to check them out physically and medically. In both time and money, it was a very costly process. As with most NFL business from 1960-89, Dallas Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm was in the middle of change. He proposed to the league’s Competition Committee holding a centralized event at which evaluations of the draft prospects could take place. In 1982, National Football Scouting, which had expanded to 16 teams, held the first National Invitational Camp (NIC) in Tampa. This camp formed the foundation of all those that followed. BLESTO and Quadra held their own camps.

From 1982-84, BLESTO, NFS, and Quadra held separate camps. To share costs, they decided to merge in 1985. They decided to COMBINE. This merging of the three scouting organizations is why the Scouting Combine is called the Scouting Combine. The first Scouting Combine was held in Phoenix. The second was held in New Orleans. In 1987, the event was moved to it’s, so far, permanent home, Indianapolis. This is the home city of NFS so it’s nice and convenient for them.

The Scouting Combine did not allow media coverage for nearly two decades. It was a very secret event. It was secret to the extent of being somewhat suspicious. It was definitely mysterious. Everything changed in 2003 when the NFL launched their own television channel, NFL Network. The 2004 Scouting Combine was the first to be revealed to the public. With each year, the television production and coverage has gotten bigger. Now, it’s a prime time event. The evolution from a very secret event to a very public event has been astonishing. It’s gotten to the point where the actual work being done in Indianapolis is secondary to the coverage of it.

The Scouting Combine


kidchess: who wants to shout in real life, ill be at the minneapolis downtown east waiting Jan 13, 2023 22:22:42 GMT -6
kidchess: just playing Jan 13, 2023 22:22:52 GMT -6
bobbyc: Terrible play calling...Last play; need 8 yards, throw a 3 yard pass; 2nd possession; third and 1, no fullback in game...No Dalvin Cook..... Jan 15, 2023 19:11:18 GMT -6
bobbyc: The good news is that Cousins gets to cash his weekly $673,076 check tomorrow Jan 15, 2023 19:43:57 GMT -6
Purple Pain: Sorry for the delay! Divisional Round for Pick 6 is now up! Jan 19, 2023 12:38:35 GMT -6 *
Purple Pain: Link: Jan 19, 2023 12:38:50 GMT -6
Reignman: Not to get all grammar nazi on you kirko, because it's my least favorite kind of nazi, but you really need to learn how to use punctuation so the verbal diarrhea that your fingers create is at least comprehensible while you're being consistently wrong. Jan 21, 2023 15:17:14 GMT -6
Purple Pain: Again, sorry for the delay! Jan 26, 2023 19:11:29 GMT -6
Purple Pain: Championship Weekend for Pick 6 is up: Jan 26, 2023 19:11:53 GMT -6
Purple Pain: Super Bowl edition is up for Pick 6: Feb 8, 2023 9:41:14 GMT -6
vikadam: SKOL VIKINGS RULE!!! Mar 16, 2023 9:55:40 GMT -6
andhesloose28: Why are my shouts deleted? Apr 13, 2023 7:24:34 GMT -6
Funkytown: If something was deleted, I'm assuming you already know why. But to answer your question, several mods moderate the board. If something is low-quality nonsense, mods have the authority to edit, move, or delete as they see fit. Hope that helps. Apr 13, 2023 10:37:40 GMT -6
Ted Glover: Speaking of low quality nonsense, I hope everyone tunes in to the 'Vikings Report With Drew And Ted' live NFL draft shows on Thursday and Friday night for the first three rounds. We'll be on for every pick, and we've got some cool prize giveaways too! Apr 15, 2023 13:22:59 GMT -6 *
Reignman: oooooo I love low quality nonsense May 25, 2023 15:46:19 GMT -6
Funkytown: Of course you do, Reign. Of course you do. lol May 25, 2023 20:17:44 GMT -6
TAFKASP: There is no such thing as high quality nonsense. May 27, 2023 18:26:09 GMT -6
Reignman: Bullcorn, my nonsense is always high quality 8D May 29, 2023 14:04:04 GMT -6
Funkytown: Yep. That's what I was thinking. Reignman is high quality nonsense. Jun 2, 2023 18:37:45 GMT -6
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