National Invitational Camp or NFL Scouting
Combine, as it is more widely known, is a week-long
showcase, occurring every February in Indianapolis,
Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium (and formerly at the RCA Dome until 2008),
where college football players perform physical and mental tests in
front of National Football
League coaches, general managers and scouts.
increasing interest in the NFL Draft
scouting combine has grown in scope and significance, allowing
personnel directors to evaluate upcoming prospects in a
standardized setting. Its origins have evolved from the National,
BLESTO and Quadra Scouting organizations in 1977 to the media event
it has become today.
Athletes attend by invitation only. Implications of one's
performance during the combine can affect perception, draft status,
salary and ultimately career. The draft has popularized the term
"Workout Warrior", whereby an athlete's "draft stock" is increased
based on superior measurable qualities such as size, speed and
strength, despite having an average or sub-par college
Tests and evaluations
The NFL's first scouting organization, LESTO (Lions Eagles Steelers
Talent Organization), was started in 1963 by the teams mentioned in
its name. It became BLESTO when the Bears joined the following year
and BLESTO-V when the Vikings came on board later in the decade. It
is now known simply as BLESTO
despite the Bears
and Eagles having gone their separate ways.
CEPO (Central Eastern Personnel Organization), formed in 1964, was
a joint endeavor between the Colts (Baltimore-based at the time),
the original Browns, the Packers and the Cardinals (St. Louis-based
at the time). Its name was changed twice, first to United Scouting
after the Falcons, Giants and Redskins joined its ranks, then
finally to National Football Scouting in 1983 to avoid any
confusion associated with the United States Football League
the NFL's direct competitor that began its operations that year.
National Football Scouting is now known simply as The
Also formed in 1964 was Troika by the Cowboys, Rams (based in Los
Angeles at the time) and 49ers. It was renamed Quadra when the
Saints joined in 1967. Quadra is no longer in existence.
List of team participants
As of the 2008 season (see table below), eighteen franchises
participate in The National, with seven served by BLESTO. The seven
non-affiliated teams rely on its in-house scouting staffs.
Combine Directors in NFL Draft Advisory Board
Every year, the directors of BLESTO and The National are seated as
members of the NFL Draft
The Board offers its opinion to college football players as to the likely round in which they would be taken, if they forgo college football playing eligibility and enter the draft. The combine directors' experience enables them to offer guided opinions as to the likely round at which a player would be picked.
Each university has a Pro Day, where NFL scouts are allowed to come
to the school and watch players participate in the events that take
place at the Combine. This is done under the belief that players
feel more comfortable at their own campus than they do at the
Combine, which in turn leads to better performances. College teams
which produce a large quantity of NFL prospects generally generate
huge interest from scouts and coaches at their Pro Days.
High School Combines
College teams now rely on events comparable to the NFL Combine as a
way to find or discover players. Statistics from programs such as
The National Underclassmen Combine, which is for 8th-11th graders,
are factored into the recruiting process.
- David Schoenfield, Page 2: The 100 worst draft
picks ever, ESPN.com, April 26, 2006 (see #45, Mike
Mamula, a "workout wonder")
- Isaac Cheifetz, Hiring Secrets of the NFL: How Your Company
Can Select Talent Like a Champion (2007), 68, available at
- Rich Eisen, Total Access: A Journey to the Center of the
NFL Universe (2007), 128, available at Google Books
- http://profootball.scout.com/2/820118.html Marino, Tom. "The
Scouting Combine's Role in Pro Scouting," Scout.com, December 10,
- http://www.draftdaddy.com/features/blesto.htm "Who Are BLESTO
& The National?" DraftDaddy.com.
- Thomas Stinston, When in Doubt, Consult the
Expert Panel, Atlanta Journal Constitution, December 21,