|The 40-yard dash might make for great reality tv, but it's only a small part of the annual combine. (USA Today Sports)|
The 2013 NFL Scouting combine unofficially began Wednesday, though the media wasn't allowed into Lucas Oil Stadium and players weren't asked to compete in the 40-yard dash or any other athletic event.
It was originally designed to "combine" the medical staffs of each NFL team and allow them to see and evaluate the prospects most likely to earn draft selections in April. It has since morphed into made-for-television reality programming in which every move made by the top athletes is documented.
Though NFL personnel and much of the media will stay in Indianapolis throughout the entire combine, the players, themselves, are broken into 11 position groups and are filtered through a four day whirlwind of medical testing, interviews and, of course, the athletic testing that most fans mistakenly believe is the crux of the process.
Groups One (Specialists), Two (Offensive Linemen) and Three (Tight Ends) arrive first. Many of them arrived Tuesday. They are met at the airport by NFL personnel where they are shuttled to their hotel to register, before going to local hospitals for pre-exams and x-rays, given an orientation and finally given their individual schedules for the team interviews which will end each their evenings for the next three days.
On the second day, Groups One, Two and Three are then officially measured in by league scouts, then sent to their medical examinations (which can take all day for some players) before being interviewed by the media and then finishing up the evening with more team interviews. While this is occurring, Group Four (Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers with last names in the top half of the alphabet), Five (remaining quarterbacks and wide receivers) and Six (Running Backs) arrive in Indianapolis. They'll start the same process Groups One, Two and Three had completed.
On the third day, Groups One, Two and Three are first sent to a meeting with the Players Union. They'll go to Psychological Testing after this, which is followed by their first athletic testing -- the Bench Press. Finally, they'll off to conclude their third evening of interviews with teams. Meanwhile, Groups Seven (Defensive Linemen), Eight (remaining defensive linemen) and Nine (Linebackers) arrive and begin the process.
It isn't until their fourth day in Indianapolis that the athletes actually perform the drills most fans typically associate with the combine: the vertical jump, short-shuttle, three-cone drill and, of course, the infamous 40-yard dash, among others. While Group One, Two and Three is finishing up these drills and heading back to the hotel to gather their things before flying home, Groups 10 (Defensive Backs) and 11 (remaining defensive backs) are just arriving.
For fans anxious to follow CBS' coverage live from Lucas Oil Stadium and the 2013 NFL Scouting combine, the schedule to follow is below. Links are also provided to the players per position Dane Brugler and I suggest you should be keeping a close eye on per workout.
Thursday: Media interviews of NFL personnel and of the offensive linemen, tight ends and specialists.
Friday: The first "workouts" begin with the offensive linemen and tight ends performing in the bench press. Media interviews of NFL personnel and of the quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs.
Saturday: The real "combine" drills begin with offensive linemen and tight ends performing in field drills and positional workouts and the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs competing in the bench press. Media interviews of NFL personnel and the defensive linemen and linebackers also takes place. Who to watch among: Offensive Linemen, Tight Ends.
Sunday: Not surprisingly, the NFL has made Sunday the most-action packed day of the Combine. Quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs will be performing all of their on-field drills, including their positional workouts. Meanwhile the defensive linemen and linebackers will be competing in the bench press drills. The final media interviews of NFL personnel and of the final positional group, the defensive backs, also takes place on Sunday. Who to watch among: Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers and Running Backs.
Monday: The defensive linemen and linebackers begin their on-field testing with defensive backs moving to the bench press. Who to watch among: Defensive Tackles, Defensive Ends, Inside Linebackers and Outside Linebackers.