The NFL Scouting Combine: Should Information Processing Be Higher Ranked in the NFL Draft?

The NFL Scouting Combine is an important test for amateur football players who want to be ranked higher in the NFL Draft.

Occurring between February 27 to March 6 in 2023, football players arrive with high aspirations, hoping to prove their physical prowess, which will hopefully provide them a high ranking in the NFL Draft.

A high ranking, of course, means higher compensation and expectations for the hopeful athletes!

The NFL Scouting Combine

The National Football League (NFL) says that the purpose of the Combine is:

"The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine allows prospects to participate in on-field drills in front of NFL evaluators. Additionally, prospects have the opportunity to interview with NFL teams."

Finally, "the NFL Scouting Combine is a pivotal step in the prospect journey from amateur athlete to NFL Pro. This key stop before the NFL Draft provides an exciting opportunity for fans to witness the future talent of the NFL up-close before prospects find their new team."

Fans have the opportunity to watch the Combine, as the NFL airs about 50 hours each year of the different events.  319 amateurs vied for top slots.

According to the website, here are some of the events:

  • 40-yard dash
  • Bench press
  • Vertical jump
  • Broad jump
  • Three-cone drill
  • 20-yard shuttle
  • 60-yard shuttle

Notably missing in these assessments is "an assessment that affects quarterbacks, safeties, linebackers, and cornerbacks," according to the Athletics' Matt Barrows.  "The S2 Cognition Test assesses the intangibles of information processing, a key skill in a fast-moving game like football."

S2 Cognition Test

According to the S2 Cognition's website:

"S2's sports-science evaluates cognitive abilities in game situations so that players understand the level of their instincts. Anticipation, reading, reacting, and adapting to the game are now measurable skills. How fast do you process the speed of the game? INSTINCTIVE LEARNING."

In contrast, the NFL uses the Wonderlic test in its evaluation during scouting season.  The Wonderlic test only measures intelligence, not information processing.

In other words, you can be very intelligent, but you must also be able to rapidly process changing field conditions in order to be an elite player in the NFL.

Barrows noticed that Brock Purdy scored in the mid 90's on the S2 Cognition Test, in elite company with quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees, who is retired.

If NFL teams had taken his S2 Cognition Scores more seriously, Purdy would have ranked higher in the Draft.

NFL Draft

The annual NFL Draft occurs from April 27-29, 2023.

Assessments of athletes start to occur when invitations to the Combine are sent out to prospective players.

Additional opportunities to assess athletes may occur during Pro Days, Pre-Draft Visits, or All-Star Games.  When prospective players make their Pre-Draft Visits, they might take part in intelligence tests like the Wonderlic.

Some prospective players who are chosen in the Draft ultimately do not end up being chosen to be on a team's roster.  Is this because they cannot process information as quickly as they should?

As Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy was destined to spend his time as a back-up quarterback.  This would have been unfortunate, as his leadership and information processing skills have made all the difference for the 49ers at the end of their season.

Is it time for the decision-makers for each team to consider the importance of information processing in their future draft choices, not just physical prowess or intelligence tests?

If you have a question or comment, please leave it in the comments below!

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