In response to the criticism arising from the Aaron Hernandez case and a current rise in offseason arrests, the NFL is considering a change that is aimed to curb the amount of risks teams take on low character players at the NFL Draft.
According to Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com, the NFL is considering barring academically ineligible prospects from the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Feldman, citing an unnamed NFL source, reports that the possibility is “being discussed because of the increased scrutiny on the maturity and commitment of the prospects entering the NFL.”
The move to ban certain players from the scouting combine seems like it will achieve nothing other than punishing athletes who don’t stay academically eligible while in college. Teams will always find the best players and the players who are academically ineligible will still find their way into the draft and will be scouted by all 32 NFL teams draft staff’s through game tape, interviews with coaches, and interviews with the players themselves, so this move seems to be a move to impress the press while effectively not changing anything else.
The NFL is only making the scouting process more cumbersome and expensive for its teams, with the new need to privately scout players, draft resource expenses are bond to go up at all 32 NFL teams. The primary benefit of the Scouting Combine comes from bringing all of the top prospects and all of the teams to the same place, reducing significantly the costs of the medical review and creating an opportunity to talk to as many players as possible, either via the normal interview rotation or the train station” conversations, which in theory allows a sufficiently diligent team to register face time with every player.
Also the fact that academically ineligible players would still be drafted whether they go to the Scouting Combine or not makes this move a softball one directed at appearing to be harder on character.
The one thing that might be achieved through this is players graduating or at least following through with the majority of their majors, but that will come from a changing of the attitudes of college prospects, not from this rule.
So while it’s good that the NFL is considering ways to prevent future Aaron Hernandez type players from being employed by NFL teams when they allegedly commit crimes and direct negative media towards the NFL , banning academically ineligible players from the Scouting Combine won’t do anything to accomplish the goal other than potentially make things more difficult on NFL front offices come draft time.
If the NFL does go through with this it will be a move that will be solely for the purpose of trying to appear tough on “bad characters” and not doing anything to make an impact on curbing the problem.