Behind the Scenes at the NFL Combine

As you may have heard, the NFL Combine wrapped up last month. The annual National Scouting Combine, as its commonly referred to, is held every year in Indianapolis at the end of February/beginning of March. Although its primary purpose is the evaluation of the top draft-eligible prospects, it really serves as an NFL-wide convention that brings together athletes, scouts, executives, agents, and media. For agents, the Combine serves several purposes.

First, and most important, agents are there to support our clients that are participating in the Combine. Perhaps surprisingly, we really don’t get to see our clients that much during their time in Indy. Players fly in four days before their workout day, but their schedules are packed with media interviews, medical testing, team interviews, more medical tests, and finally, the on-field testing. It usually only allows us to see our player about once or twice a day at most.

Another notable event for agents is the annual NFLPA Agent Seminar that is hosted by the Union. There are only two such seminars throughout the year, and attendance at either one of them is mandatory. These seminars are akin to CLE’s for attorneys. Topics such as the updated salary cap & team cash spending figures are discussed, as well as relevant changes to player benefits programs and drug testing policies. It is typically held on the Thursday of Combine week, and lasts all day.

Agents also take the time during the combine to meet with the coaches, scouts, and executives from all 32 teams. Whether it’s lobbying scouts for your players in the upcoming draft, or trying to get a contract or workout for a free agent, getting together with these executives is an effective way to work for your clients and build relationships that will pay dividends in the future. It’s also imperative to meet with the teams that all your current clients play for in order to solidify relationships with the decision makers and to get a feel for a potential contract extension when the time comes.

A lot of networking takes place at the various restaurants and establishments that Indy is famous for. On any given night, a contingent of coaches, scouts, agents, and media personalities will converge and network. It’s a good time to meet new people in the business and continue to build relationships with those that you may work with over the phone or email, but rarely get a chance to see in person.

Once the combine wraps up, agents turn the focus to getting their clients ready for pro days, private workouts, and “top-30” visits. After these events, the draft is right around the corner.


Shane Costa is an NFLPA-certified Agent and the Director of Football Operations at Pillar Sports Management. He graduated from UB Law School in 2013.

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