The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine has begun! But there’s more to this set of workouts than meets the eye! So we came up with a couple handfuls of great NFL Combine facts you didn’t know, but will be happy to learn (if just to annoy your buddies).
These interesting NFL Combine facts will definitely help you appreciate this event much more, as you get ready to size up the college football prospects that might turn your NFL team into a contender – and your Fantasy Football team into a beast!
14 NFL Combine Facts You Didn’t Know
Tex Schramm Invented the NFL Scouting Combine Idea
The Dallas Cowboys’ President and General Manager from 1960 to 1989, legendary football mind Tex Schramm, proposed a centralized place for all NFL teams to scout and evaluate talent in 1982. Before this, teams had to schedule individual visits with players and run them through separate drills and tests. By doing this altogether, the players wouldn’t have to do them several times, and all teams would get the same information at a cheaper price.
The NFL’s First Scouting Organization: Bears, Eagles, Lions & Steelers
Did you know that back in the day (1963!), the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers got together to create the NFL’s first scouting organization – LESTO (Lions, Eagles and Steelers Talent Organization)! Then the Chicago Bears got into the mix later, making it BLESTO – and when the Vikings finally joined a few more years later, they changed it to BLESTO-V. Seriously. The idea was they could pool sources to scout players, save money, and do a better job than if they did all the work on their own.
FIVE fast facts about @OU_Football's @baker_mayfield6 ⬇️
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 1, 2018
The First “Kinda” NFL Combine Was at Tampa in 1982
In 1982, the National Scouting Combine was held in Tampa, Florida, allowing NFL teams to get unified medical data from the college football players they’re considering drafting. There were 163 players attended that first event, which is less than half of the 330 players invited to the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine! I can do math!
This Current Version of the NFL Combine Started in 1985
That initial NFL Combine held in Tampa was one of three camps, as the teams that weren’t members of the National Football Scouting, Inc., held two similar camps run from 1982 to 1984. Finally, in 1985, all three camps merged together, with the NFL Combine in New Orleans in 1984 (and 1986) and Arizona in 1985. Finally, it moved to Indianapolis in 1987, and has remained there ever since.
The NFL Combine Didn’t Get on Television Until 2004
It took the NFL Network being launched in 2003 for this event to finally get on television. In February of 2004, the new network showed six one-hour shows that recapped the 2004 NFL Combine. These days, the NFL Combine gets over 30 hours of TV coverage, and it’s watched by over 5 million viewers every year.
If Only There Were an NFL Combine Pro Bowl…
Kevin Kasper set the record for 20-yard shuttle in 2001, and he also ranks in the top 10 in vertical leap. And yet, Kasper ended up playing for eight different NFL teams, and he only started in a couple games for a few of those teams.
Did You Know There was an NFL Veteran Combine!?!
A few years ago, the NFL created an NFL Veteran Combine for non-vested free agents to display their talents for NFL teams. It didn’t really go over all that well, but it is returned in 2017, and it was renamed the Pro Player Combine. It was limited to players who signed their first NFL contract in either 2014, 2015 or 2016, or had their recent contract waived or it expired in 2016.
Bo Knows Combine: Bo Jackson Ran a 4.12 40-Yard Dash
While the NFL Scouting Combine wasn’t yet using electronic timing to track times, Bo Jackson is still considered the fastest player to ever run the 40-yard dash. In 1986, the year he was drafted first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Auburn product ran a 4.12 40-yard dash. No player has posted a faster time ever. Unfortunately, the margin of error for handheld timing compared to electronic timing is about 0.2 seconds.
CJ2K Was CJ4.24 During the NFL Combine in 2008
Since electronic timing was introduced in 1999, Chris Johnson owns the fastest NFL player time in the 40-yard dash, posting a 4.24 mark in 2008. Eastern Kentucky Rondel Menendez posted a 4.24 mark in 1999, though. Menendez parlayed that number into being a seventh-round pick, but he blew out his knee in the following preseason and never played again.
The Greatest Fantasy Football Player of All Time Had a Poor NFL Combine
In the 1985 NFL Combine, future Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice ran a relatively slow 4.6 40-yard dash, which made him drop to being the third wide receiver drafted, after the Jets’ Al Toon and the Bengals’ Eddie Brown.
“He’s really, really FAST!”
— NFL (@NFL) March 1, 2018
Eddie Lacy Finished Outside the Top 14 In His 3 Events
This one is interesting because Lacy competed in the 2013 NFL Combine, and he only chose to do three events: the 40-yard dash, vertical leap and the 3-cone drill. He placed outside the top 14 in each, got drafted near the end of the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and won the 2013 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. And now he’s back to being the 14th-best RB during training camp. Hooo!
Who Can Leap Over a Building in a Single Bound?
Did you know that Gators QB Tim Tebow holds the NFL Combine record for a vertical leap – 38 1/2 inches? He set that mark in 2010 – obviously, that’s why the Broncos drafted him in the first round.
Eastern University Colonels = Eastern University Combine Beasts
Not only did WR Rondel Menendez run one of the fastest record NFL Combine times in history, but defensive tackle Justin Ernest moved a record amount of LBs during the 1999 NFL Scouting Combine. Ernest wasn’t drafted, unlike Menendez, and while he did sign with the New Orleans Saints, he didn’t get into any NFL games.
Ryan Leaf First Snubbed the Colts Before They Snubbed Him
Reports are that Leaf very much did not want the Colts to draft him first overall in 1998, so he skipped their team interview. Leaf had also put on 20 pounds between the end of his season at Washington State and the NFL Combine – which were a couple months from each other.
Photo Credit: Army Recruiting
Now that you’ve learned all these fun NFL Combine facts, you can amaze your friends and wow your enemies! Congrats!
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.