Looking back at the NFL Scouting Combine's history, origins


While the NFL is in the early stages of its “offseason,” the action is beginning to ramp up.

Draft season is in full swing with the start of the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The event gives the league’s 32 teams a chance to get an up-close look at the prospects who will be on the board in April.

What was the scouting landscape before the combine, and what sparked the creation of the modern tentpole? Here’s a look back at NFL Scouting Combine history and it has evolved:

When was the NFL Scouting Combine founded?

National Football Scouting Inc. (NFS) held the first National Invitational Camp in Tampa, Fla., in 1982. The camp welcomed 163 players as 16 member clubs acquired medical information on prospects.

While the National Invitational Camp was designed to be a single location to share medical info, not every team went at first. BLESTO and Quadra Scouting each ran a camp of their own until 1984.

In 1985, the three camps merged and the NFL chose to have the NFS run the centralized event. The move helped the three organizations split costs. It benefited teams, as well, by allowing a setting to collect more in-depth medical, physical and psychological intel on players.

Why is it called the NFL Scouting Combine?

While there is no explicit reason given for the “NFL Scouting Combine” name, the new moniker came after the National, BLESTO and Quadra camps combined for the 1985 event.

How long has the NFL combine been held in Indianapolis?

The NFL combine did not start out in Indianapolis. The first two NFS combines were held in Tampa before heading to New Orleans in 1984. Arizona was the site for the first post-merge combine in 1985 before going back to New Orleans in 1986. Indianapolis first hosted the combine at the Hoosier Dome in 1987 and has hosted the event each season since, with the exception of 2021, where the in-person combine was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NFL made combine locations subject to bidding from 2023 to 2028. Dallas, Los Angeles and Indianapolis were reportedly the cities in consideration for the 2023 edition with Indianapolis holding onto it.

When was the NFL Scouting Combine first televised?

The NFL combine did not allow cameras to cover the event for nearly two decades.

A major change came in 2003, when NFL Network was launched. The 2004 combine was covered in daily segments and it has evolved into a primetime TV event for 2023.

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