Can an Agent Get a Player into the NFL Combine?

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Hello there. It’s Neil again, and this is the Two-Minute Drill.

One of the questions I get most often is, how do players get invited to the combine? When I get this question, usually what the person means is, can someone get a player into the combine? Let’s answer both questions today.

The NFL’s evaluation methods are very subjective, and relationships matter. I could tell you dozens of stories about players that got drafted, or signed after the draft, because their coach knew someone on an NFL team, or the player was related to a scout, or any number of other relationships. That’s also true of how the combine used to work.

For example, Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan wrapped up his college career as an undersized tight end who finished with 14 catches for 127 yards. But you know what? He went to the combine after his senior season, and that probably had a lot to do with the fact that his father, Mike, was a two-time Super Bowl winner at Denver.

But that was then, and this is now. The organization that runs the NFL Combine, National Football Scouting, is run by Jeff Foster. Jeff is an honest, forthright person who has taken a lot of the ‘quid pro quo’ out of the process and who has made the combine a much more professional, modern event.

While I don’t understand exactly how each player is selected, I know it involves a voting process that includes several scouts who actually vote on hundreds of players before whittling it down to the 350 or so players actually invited. The whole goal of the combine is to make sure every player who will get drafted is invited to Indianapolis for medical and physical testing. Though there are usually 40–50 drafted who didn’t go to the combine, it’s not because so many players were given a free pass. It’s only because the scouting process is not a science, and there are big mistakes made every day by smart people who do this for a living.

I wanted to make this point because every year I hear from parents who tell me one of the agents their son spoke to promised they could get their son into the combine. This is important — there’s no agent out there, and I don’t care how connected he is or how long he’s been doing this, that can get a player into the combine. The combine process is probably as close to being apolitical as you’ll find in the business, so if your son’s talking to someone who promises a combine selection, run the other way. That won’t happen.

For more information on the combine invitation process, check out our free blog, Succeed in Football, or check us out @InsideTheLeague. Thank you as always for listening.