It is not hard to attend the NFL’s Scouting Combine. There were over 800 media members in attendance.
It is hard to get into the NFL Scouting Combine to see the players get measured and work out. That is limited to select media and fans, along with NFL team and league personnel.
Over 800 media members attended the event over the past week in Indianapolis. Only a small portion of those reporters, producers, analysts and on-air talents saw the workouts on the Lucas Oil Stadium field with their own eyes. I was lucky enough to get inside and check out the offensive linemen drills. I saw first-hand exactly how the Combine is arranged thanks to a fairly new initiative by the Pro Football Writers Association.
I was among a group that was escorted from the media room on the lower level to a luxury box in the mezzanine. The media room only provided a view of the action on the field via televisions tuned to the NFL Network.
The luxury box had an open view to the field where the action was unfolding. It had three sections of seats, with six rows consisting of three seats apiece for a total of 36 outdoor seats with an excellent midfield view. It is in these kind of seats where you saw most of the head coaches scouting the action from the second level at Lucas Oil. That or they were scattered throughout the stands like John Harbaugh when he was spotted shaking his head at Manti Te’o's 40-yard dash.
Each team was assigned a different luxury box for the week, each marked by one of those mini-pennants you had on your wall when you were a kid taped outside the entrance door.
To our left midfield was was the home town Indianapolis Colts’ box. Chuck Pagano was sitting there with a midfield seat. To our right was the Tennessee Titans. The other 30 teams had similar setups throughout the stadium. There were 36 outdoors seats at their disposal with an unobstructed view of the field where NFL prospects ran through drills. Anchored television sets with the NFL Network showing were hanging to your left and right. Inside was a bathroom and a kitchen/dining area to fulfill all your needs for a full work day (approximately 9am to 5 pm). The box was each teams’ home for the week.
Throughout the stadium’s lower level were scouts, coaches and personnel executives who elected for a closer look at the field. They were mostly situated on the nearside between the goal line and 20-yard line, directly in front of where the 40-yard dash was run.
What they saw was the near sideline practically empty, except for a small NFL Network set at the other 30-yard line for the live online broadcast. In the far end zone there was a stage for the NFL Network’s main broadcast. On the other side of the field was where all the drills were take place.
On the near sideline, in-bounds basically from the end zone to midfield, was the 40-yard dash setup, where you saw future NFL prospects burn up the turf. On the far side was a variety of mats and equipment where the players were tested athletically. Between the hashmarks from the goal line to midfield was where the drill of the moment were taking place.
On the far sideline were large groups of men in the pseudo-camouflage Under Armour jerseys stretching, jumping and getting measured. There was a little bit of everything going on. I even saw players sitting on the ground, legs spread and being measured 1-by-1 on what looked like the sit and reach test.
On the field, Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher was showing the rest of the big boys how to do the kick-slide drill. It was impressive. You could see the way he moved his feet and shuffled with relative grace that he was the best talent on the field at 300-plus pounds. North Carolina State’s Jonathan Cooper, at 6-foot-3 and 311 pounds, also looked like a fluid natural bender at the hips who moved defenders with a powerful punch. Trust me, that’s a good thing when it comes to football.
Much like the NFL Scouting Combine as a whole, it was a sight to see. And I was glad for the unique opportunity to see it. Watching on television doesn’t do the hectic scene justice. Seeing it with your own eyes reinforces the belief that this is the most thorough and exhaustive job interview in the world.