If it were up to Rich Eisen, the NFL Scouting Combine would have points and be more competitive. But first, he’d just like the 40-yard dash times posted faster.
“We’re still hoping the official times could be posted immediately. We still haven’t reached that yet,” Eisen told the Inquirer. “There are still some evaluators who feel that if we turn this into a competition, it would undercut the main reason why we’re all here, which is to evaluate talent.”
Eisen returns Thursday to anchor the combine for the 16th-straight year on the NFL Network, with on-the-field workouts of tight ends, quarterbacks, and wide receivers beginning this afternoon and airing in primetime. Eisen will be joined in the booth by NFL Network analyst and former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah, and the pair have about 26 hours to fill and 337 NFL hopefuls to discuss over the next four days.
“Most of these players are big men on campus. So their names that fans are familiar with,” Eisen said. “There’s a lot of air time, but there are so many stories to be discussed."
The combine, which was created as a way to centralize the evaluation of incoming NFL prospects, dates back to 1982, and has taken place in Indianapolis since 1987. After the NFL Network launched in 2003, it had to prove to teams and the competition committee that it could cover the event without interfering with the evaluation process, Eisen said. Then coaches began to tell Eisen and the crew they learned more watching the NFL Network’s coverage of workouts then attending them in person.
But Eisen still hopes to convince coaches and talent evaluators it would be beneficial to turn the event into more of a competition, especially to garner the interest of high-profile players (such as LSU quarterback Joe Burrow or Ohio State defender Chase Young) who skip out on the workouts out of fear it could negatively impacting their draft prospects.
“If we do make it a competition, like add points to how they perform, or give them somebody to run against at the same time, maybe a kid might want to actually participate in the combine,” Eisen said. “And you can also see how perhaps they might improve under pressure.”
Eisen said he could benefit personally from the primetime schedule, a first for the event. Every year, he runs his own 40-yard dash for charity, with the proceeds going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, typically after having sat in the booth for seven hours. His best time was 5.97 seconds in 2018. This year, he’ll run Saturday morning, which he hopes leads to a faster time, and air it Sunday afternoon.
Here’s everything you need to know to watch or stream the NFL combine:
The NFL Network’s coverage of this year’s NFL combine is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., and will continue for until 11 p.m. Eisen will anchor for the 16th-straight year, and will be joined throughout the broadcast by NFL draft experts Daniel Jeremiah, Charles Davis, and Bucky Brooks. Also joining the coverage will be analysis by the network’s popular stable of personalities, including Hall of Famers Kurt Warner, Michael Irvin, and Deion Sanders.
A new wrinkle this year is analysis from current NFL stars, including Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram II (Friday), New Orleans Saints defensive end Cam Jordan and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard (Saturday), and New York Jets safety Jamal Adams (Sunday).
ESPN will also cover this year’s combine, with live editions of NFL Live and SportsCenter broadcasting from Lucas Oil Stadium.
Two-hour editions of NFL Live will air Thursday and Friday beginning at 4 p.m., hosted by Wendi Nix (Thursday) and Suzy Kolber (Friday) alongside ESPN NFL draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay, and Louis Riddick. NFL Front Office Insider Mike Tannenbaum and Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy will also join the broadcasts. A Saturday edition of NFL Live, hosted by Trey Wingo, will air at 5 p.m. on ABC.
SportsCenter, hosted by Kevin Negandhi, will also broadcast live from Indianapolis on Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m.
The combine will stream live on the NFL app, the NFL Network app, and NFL.com, though all three require a cable or satellite TV subscription that includes the NFL Network.
If you’re a cord cutter without a cable or satellite subscription, you can stream with a subscription to FuboTV (which has a 7-day free trial) or SlingTV’s Blue package. The NFL Network is not available on YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, or AT&T TV Now.
If you’re interested in streaming ESPN’s limited coverage, cable subscribers can turn to the ESPN app . Otherwise the network is available to stream on ESPN+, YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, SlingTV’s Orange package, and AT&T TV Now.
There will be 337 NFL hopefuls on the field this weekend hoping to impress scouts enough to land on an NFL roster.
Sixteen players from LSU, this year’s national champion, were invited to the combine, the most of any school. Headlines include quarterback Joe Burrow (who won’t workout), wide receiver Justin Jefferson, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson, and defensive backs Grant Delpit and Kristian Fulton.
Penn State had five players invited: Wide receiver KJ Hamler, defensive linemen Yetur Gross-Matos and Rob Windsor, linebacker Cameron Brown, and cornerback John Reid. Four Temple starters will also be on hand: Offensive lineman Matt Hennessy, linebackers Shaun Bradley and Chapelle Russell, and cornerback Harrison Hand.
Outside of their televised on-the-field workouts, participants also undergo medical exams and physical and psychological testing. They’ll also have their fair share of interviews with teams (the Eagles have already met with several wide-receiver prospects, including Jefferson, Alabama’s Henry Ruggs, and Penn State’s KJ Hamler).
Here is a full list of all 337 participants in this year’s combine.
Back in 2017, University of Washington standout John Ross set a new record with a 4.22 second 40-yard dash, breaking the previous mark shared by Chris Johnson and Rondel Menendez.
Here are the top five 40-yard dashes run in the NFL combine history:
- 4.22 seconds: John Ross, wide receiver, 2017
- 4.24 seconds: Chris Johnson, running back, 2008
- 4.24 seconds: Rondel Menendez, wide receiver, 1999
- 4.26 seconds: Jerome Mathis, wide receiver, 2005
- 4.27 seconds: Marquise Goodwin, wide receiver, 2014
The NFL Network will air 26 hours of live coverage of this year’s combine. Here’s the complete schedule: