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NFL Scouting Combine: NFL to reportedly determine the fate of 2021 combine this week

NFL Scouting Combine
Mar 2, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; A view of the NFL Scouting Combine logo on the backdrop as players speak with media during the NFL Combine at the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Scouting Combine is one of the biggest events of every NFL offseason. It’s a week-long event, where top prospects and teams come together in Indianapolis for this marquee event. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine could be in jeopardy.

NFL teams, agents and media flock to Indianapolis every year to watch the top prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft. It’s an opportunity to witness some of the game’s future stars influence their draft stock with performances that either leave the NFL world buzzing or left with questions.

It also plays a crucial role in the entire NFL offseason. Agents representing the top talent in NFL free agency meet with teams to discuss contracts, while general managers converse and even hammer out frameworks for blockbuster trades.

Unfortunately, the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine and all that comes with it is in jeopardy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Latest news on 2021 NFL Scouting Combine

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL is expected to decide the fate of the 2021 scouting combine this week. Discussions are going, but league officials are still determining whether there will be an NFL Scouting Combine.

Even if the league decides to hold its annual combine, it will be far different than anything fans, media and NFL personnel are used to. The week-long event, which has been held annually in Indianapolis since 1987, could undergo significant changes that would eliminate so much of what made it an iconic event.

In recent years, the NFL Scouting Combine has been tailored toward fans. The league started allowing spectators in recent years, even creating fan activities to monetize the combine and bring in a bigger crowd. In addition, NFL Network has delivered live coverage for the NFL Scouting Combine for 16 consecutive years.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with cases still surging, it’s likely that a 2021 NFL Combine won’t have fan attendance. More problematic for teams, an issue that clubs are becoming familiar with, the NFL may consider limiting the number of team personnel traveling to Indianapolis.

When the coronavirus outbreak first started in the United States, it impacted how teams prepared for the 2020 NFL Draft. The Philadelphia Eagles, along with multiple other teams, pulled their scouts from Pro Day scouting trips across the country. We’ve also seen attendance at the combine become less prioritized by teams in recent years, with Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay only spending one night in Indianapolis in 2020.

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Of course, top NFL Draft prospects have placed less emphasis on the NFL Scouting Combine. Joe Burrow didn’t throw and Chase Young didn’t participate in drills. Both players met with teams and conducted media interviews, then were later selected with the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Interviews can be conducted over Zoom sessions, which became increasingly popular during the 2020 offseason. So, it comes as no surprise that the NFL is contemplating significant alterations to the combine this year.

According to Schefter, the NFL could move the NFL Scouting Combine from March 8-11 into April, especially since the NCAA Tournament will be hosted entirely in Indianapolis from March 14 through April 5. It all creates more challenges for the NFL, which is reportedly considering alternative locations or even just having regional combines. If the combine is postponed, that will influence when NFL free agency begins.

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The 2021 NFL Scouting Combine’s fate should be known fairly soon, but the event won’t be the same. It will just be another hurdle for teams to overcome as they evaluate the 2021 NFL Draft prospects.