ELITE Pro Football Combines give hope to players who’ve been left out of NFL consideration
Thar’s talent in them thar fields and it’s not all on display at the NFL draft. For the past twenty years one of the things that have been made clear is that there’s a lot of talent that won’t be picked by NFL scouts and GMs in the first go round. Just ask the likes of Adam Vinatieri, Joe Horn, Wayne Chrebet and Nick Harper how their NFL drafts went. Not good.
It’s a big country, so don’t blame the scouts. Fortunately, the safety net all those and 400+ more past and current NFL players fell into is the ELITE Pro Football Combines, a series of combines put on in May and June that gives passed over players the fortuitous chance to be seen by pro scouts. ELITE Combines has been diligently opening doors for football players who’ve fallen through the cracks. For a variety of reasons those hopefuls have been left out of the NFL combine and initial selection process. But for determined athletes who know they have what it takes, ELITE Combines has been there for them.
ELITE Combines will conduct eight combines plus three kicker-punter combines in major cities throughout the country. The very best athletes from those groups will be invited to the exclusive ELITE NATIONAL COMBINE in Indianapolis, IN at Lucas Oil Stadium on June 19-20. A bevy of NFL and CFL scouts will be on hand to view the goods. Anyone who thinks they have the mettle to make it to the next level can register on ELITE’s site, pay a fee, show up and display their God-given talents. There won’t be any fudging the scores as ELITE runs a tight ship. Standardized drills and tests that match the NFL requirements will be taken, with the results being entered into a data base on the ELITE Combines website where NFL and any other pro league scout or GM will be able to access it and decide if a player has what it takes. Videos and photos will be in there too. Every year a handful of ELITE Combine players make it to the next level. The drama is in not knowing who they will be.
ELITE Combines Executive Director Stephen Austin is considered the guardian for those who’ve not been able to travel the easier routes to the NFL. Many players were rehabbing injuries when their time came, and went. Many played at small schools not in the anointed big time college conferences. Some are just late bloomers. The male body continues to develop past age 23 or so when a player has used up his college eligibility. Most were revered stars on their college teams. Without an NFL development league players are left out of a development process. “ELITE Combines reopens the doors that were closed to these guys. The NFL tests the known best. We test the unknown rest,” says Austin.
Over the years, over 2,600 ELITE Combines players have made it to another level. The NFL, CFL, NFLE, Arena League… including at least five ELITE Combine alumni who are wearing Super Bowl rings right now.
Here’s the schedule:
Atlanta, Sat. May 2
Dallas, Sun, May 3
Los Angeles/Long Beach, Sat, May 9
Baltimore, Sat. May 16
Atlanta 2, Sat, May 30
Chicago, Sun, May 31
New Jersey, Sat, June 6
Columbus OH, Sun, June 7
Dallas – KP, Sun, May 3
Baltimore – KP, Sun, May 17
Los Angeles – KP Sat, May 30
ELITE National Combine, Indianapolis IN June 19-20 (invite only based on previous regional combine results)
For more information go to: www.combines.com
ELITE Pro Football Combines is sponsored by Wilson Footballs. Go to: www.wilson.com/wilson/football