INDIANAPOLIS – When the NFL Combine relocated to Indianapolis in 1987, it was only a blip compared to how it has grown to its current form.
An event that started in 1982 drew but a handful of writers who knew it was a way to fill notebooks from NFL decision makers.
As ESPN helped create public consciousness of the draft in the early 1980s, the NFL Network did the same and started televising the combine in 2005.
In its third year of coverage, the NFL Network attracted 3.7 million viewers, a number that grew to 5.2 million in 2010, 6.51 million in 2012 and 7.25 last year.
NFL Media this year will have 60-plus hours of coverage, with on-field workouts running from Friday through Monday.
The multi-platform coverage will include 23 hosts, reporters, insiders and analysts. Twenty-five cameras will cover the combine, with 17 dedicated to the workouts.
Merging old and new business modes has been a fluid process through the years and has positioned the NFL even further from the pack as the unquestioned leader among all sports.
The combine is a great example of that growth by striking a balance among football purists, fan engagement, media access, business components and entertainment.
Indianapolis has kept pace as well, offering geographic convenience for 31 other clubs, medical capabilities (each year about 350 MRIs are performed by IU Health, a 29-year combine affiliation) and convenient hotel proximity to the stadium.
The combine also affords teams the best chance to gather critical medical, physical and psychological information on attendees.
Additionally, each team can interview up to 60 players. Clubs had this type of access to players at all-star games and will have the same chance at individual Pro Days in March and April, plus selected on-site interviews and visits at team headquarters in April.
National Football Scouting president Jeff Foster, in his ninth year running the event.
“Jeff Foster and his crew continue to do a stellar job of organizing and orchestrating this football monstrosity every February,” said Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson. “Without Jeff and the diligence of his staff’s preparation it wouldn’t stand a chance of being the year in and year out success that it is.”
This year, the 335 participants descend on Lucas Oil Stadium. There will be 85 underclassmen (a total of 98 are draft-eligible, up from 65 in 2012 and 73 last year), and all attendees will find a media corps of more than 800 reporters.
Players are broken into position groups and will start meeting with media on Thursday.
Special teams, offensive line, tight ends – media access Thursday; workouts Friday-Saturday.
Quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs – media access Friday; workouts Sunday.
Defensive line, linebackers – media access Saturday; workouts Monday.
Defensive backs – media access Sunday; workouts Tuesday.
COLTS ANGLE – Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano address the media on Friday. Check Colts.com for the latest from Grigson and Pagano.
Indianapolis has draft selections in the second, third, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. The Colts’ first- and fourth-round picks are owned by Cleveland in trades for
MIKE MAYOCK’S POSITIONAL RANKINGS (first-through-fifth)
QB – Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville; Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M; Blake Bortles, Central Florida; Derek Carr, Fresno State; A.J. McCarron, Alabama.
RB – Carlos Hyde, Ohio State; Jeremy Hill, LSU; Bishop Sankey, Washington; Andre Williams, Boston College; Tre Mason, Auburn.
WR – Sammy Watkins, Clemson; Marqise Lee, USC; Mike Evans, Texas A&M; Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State; Jarvis Landry, LSU.
TE – Eric Ebron, North Carolina; Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington; Jace Amaro, Texas Tech; Troy Niklas, Notre Dame; C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa.
C – Marcus Martin, USC; Weston Richburg, Colorado State; Travis Swanson, Arkansas; Bryan Stork, Florida State; Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma.
G – David Yankey, Stanford; Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA; Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State; Chris Watt, Notre Dame, Cyril Richardson, Baylor.
OT – Jake Matthews, Texas A&M; Greg Robinson, Auburn; Taylor Lewan, Michigan; Zack Martin, Notre Dame; Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama.
DT – Louis Nix III, Notre Dame; Timmy Jernigan, Florida State; Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh; Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota; Dominique Easley, Florida.
DE – Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina; Kony Ealy, Missouri; Dee Ford, Auburn; Scott Crichton, Oregon State; Trent Murphy, Stanford.
LB – Khalil Mack, Buffalo; C.J. Mosley, Alabama; Anthony Barr, UCLA; Chris Borland, Wisconsin; Ryan Shazier, Ohio State.
CB – Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State; Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State; Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech; Jason Verrett, TCU, Bradley Roby, Ohio State.
S – Calvin Pryor, Louisville; Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama; Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State; Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois; Deone Bucannon, Washington State.