Behind the Scenes at the NFL Combine

March 1, 2019 by Beth Sitzler

By Kim Diggs


Every year, the NFL hosts the National Invitational Combine in Indianapolis. This gathering is comprised of more than 300 NFL hopefuls preparing for the NFL Draft in April and a medical staff of athletic trainers assessing the physical condition of each athlete. Alongside the ATs administering exams are orthopedists, radiologists, cardiologists and internal medicine physicians.

The Combine doesn’t go off without a hitch without preparation. Prior to everyone’s arrival in Indianapolis, each NFL hopeful’s basic information is entered into an organized database. The health care professionals that will be in attendance pack the tools they will be using throughout the week such as dictation machines, KT 1000, a reflex hammer and more.

During the Combine, all of the medical information obtained for each player during these examinations is recorded and filed. These documents include X-rays, CT scans, MRIS, data from physicals and physical dictations from orthopedic physicals.

The medical staff makes a risk analysis based on all of the medical information obtained during these examinations. These risk analysis are presented to scouting personnel and management to allow them to understand the full scope of their current health condition. This assists them as they make a decision on which players to draft.

Combine week is not just an opportunity to get the first look at potential NFL newcomers. It’s also a week full of seminars and meetings for health care professionals to attend. The yearly educational seminar and Professional Football Athletic Trainers’ Society meeting occur during the first two days. Later in the week, the PFATS General Medical Symposium and Sports Medicine Symposium occur.

During the NFL Draft, these certified athletic trainers and each team’s physicians act as a right hand to the teams as they aid scouting personnel in understanding a player’s current state of health and how they may fare through a full football season. Certified athletic trainers also help obtain thorough medical history of non-Combine athletes who are being considered for the draft by speaking with collegiate ATs and pulling medical records.