An Inside Look at the NFL Combine

NFL Combine Workouts

With the NFL Combine medical exams and individual workouts starting tomorrow, there’s a lot of excitement in the air here in Indy.  The anticipation of seeing which elite athletes will put their athletic skills in the fast lane is thrilling for fans, the NFL teams and, obviously, the young football players themselves.

We’ve all seen the highlights of this year’s superstar college players during the fall season.  Now is their time to showcase their skills in an NFL setting under the watchful eyes of all 32 teams at the Combine.

What is “The Combine”?

Simply stated, the NFL Combine is a very organized and well-structured job interview.  It is an invitation-only event where approximately 420 of the country’s best college football players are invited to Indianapolis in an effort to launch a new career as a professional football player.

As Head Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist for the Jacksonville Jaguars, my main responsibility at the Combine is to oversee our team’s medical department and to coordinate a comprehensive medical documentation of every player attending the six-day event.  How difficult can that be?

I’m very fortunate to have an outstanding staff of highly skilled doctors and certified athletic trainers on my team.  The process of compiling and interpreting extensive amounts of medical data at the Combine is very much a team efforts and, I’m proud to say, the Jags’ have a great medical team at this year’s annual event.

Besides the examinations themselves, we all work hard sorting through mountains of medical information from medical history reports, internal medical exams, orthopedic exams, MRI’s, lab reports, surgical reports, player’s feedback, rehabilitation documentation, x-rays, and any other medical information available to determine the present medical status of each player.

Following the medical exams, the players are busy with the many phases of the Combine process.  These include personal interviews, bench press testing, cognitive testing and the well publicized on-the-field workouts.  The field drills are position-specific and closely watched by all the league scouts, coaches and interested personnel.

In summary, this week’s NFL Combine is a wonderful opportunity for both the players and the teams to take huge strides towards a successful fall season.  I tip my hat to National Football Scouting and the NFL for the massive efforts put forth to make the event happen so efficiently.  The amount of time and organizational skills needed to coordinate this event is more than impressive.  Personally, I understand how vitally important this event is to the Jaguars’ future and I’m proud to represent my team and the league as we all look forward to the upcoming season.

Author: Mike Ryan

After 26 seasons as a full-time certified athletic trainer and registered physical therapist in the National Football League, Mike Ryan has outstanding first-hand experience. His unique professional and athletic background has sharpened his skills in the arts of sports injury management, elite rehabilitation, performance enhancement and injury prevention. Mike is now taking his experience to mainstream America. His mission is simple: Sports Medicine advice that is easy to use and brings fast results. Learn more about Mike Ryan

4 thoughts on “An Inside Look at the NFL Combine”

  1. I’m a student in high school wanting to be future NFL Athletic Trainer, what is a full overview or description of your job and what do I have to do become an Athletic Trainer or Physical Therapist in the NFL?

    1. Good for you, Jessica. My job responsibilities are many but if I were to summarize them into one sentence it would look like this: I oversee all medical issues related to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ players and football staff which would include the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of all injuries and illnesses. It’s a very cool job while it’s requires a hefty time commitment. Case in point: As I type this on 1/6/13, this is literally by 4th day off since July 15, 2012.
      What do you need to do to work in the NFL as an athletic trainer or physical therapist? Become a learning sponge about all aspects related to sports medicine in football. I suggest you earn degrees in both AT and PT because all NFL teams require a PT on staff. Go to schools that have strong sports medicine programs and competitive football teams. Become skilled in treating football injuries and earn the trust of athletic trainers at your schools who can help get you an internship in the NFL.
      It’s a great deal of work but WHEN you have a career in the NFL that gets you excited to get out of bed every day to help elite athletes to stay healthy, it’s well worth the effort. You can do it Jessica and I’m excited for you and your amazing career to follow!

  2. I am currently a senoir majoring in Exercise Science and planning on attending a Univeristy with an entryl-level athletic training program. I also wanted to get my Master’s in Sports Medicine. I want to become a Sports Medicine Specialist and possibly go to Medical School to become a doctor in Sports Medicine. I was wondering if Sports Medicine Specialists have the ability to be with the team during practice like athletic trainers or is it more of an office atomsphere where I only see athletes during diagnosis of injuries.

    1. Hey Fallon,
      I love your drive and carer plan. Think how excited you will be to go to work every day doing what you love helping others become elite as an athlete!
      To answer your question, Sports Medicine Specialists can become important members of any medical department and, depending upon on the team, would be right there on the field for every practice and game. The bottom line: make yourself valuable to the team where they want you to be directly associated witht he team/university.
      I wish you the very best with yoru endeavor for the perfect job.

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