Do the Eagles Have What it Takes to Attract the NFL Scouting Combine?

In order to make it happen, there would likely have to be a renovation done to the team's inside practice bubble or some other outside-the-box thinking
Author:
Updated:
Original:

If the Eagles build it, will they come?

Talking about the NFL Scouting Combine, here.

Could it work here, in Center City someplace, or even somewhere within the existing sports complex in South Philly?

All are legitimate questions now that the league announced on Thursday that it was going to open up bidding to host its annual college talent evaluation process.

It's difficult to see the Combine coming to the city unless some changes are made to the existing facilities. It's a discussion, though, that will likely happen internally because owner Jeffrey Lurie loves to bring attention to the city and his team.

Per NFL Media, the league sent a memo to all 32 teams informing each that the Combine will be open to a bidding process starting with the 2023 event.

"The league, in concert with the Combine Executive Committee, is considering ways to grow the Combine as a tentpole event, while at the same time enhancing the prospect experience and partnership," the memo read, per NFL Media.

The Combine began in Tampa, Fla., in 1982 and was known then as the national invitational camp.

It has grown considerably since then.

In 1987, the event was moved to Indianapolis and has been held there every year since, with the lone exception being earlier this year when it was canceled by the global pandemic.

The NFL Scouting Combine will move out of Indiana after it holds the 2022 event

The NFL Scouting Combine will move out of Indianapolis after the 2022 event

The idea of moving the Combine isn’t unlike the decision to move the NFL Draft out of New York City, where it had been held from 1965-2014. Chicago hosted it for two years then it came to Philadelphia in 2017.

The City of Brotherly Love turned out to be a terrific venue for the event, with it being held on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the activities and fan experience extending the length of the Ben Franklin Parkway.

The Combine is a whole different animal, however.

There are several NFL cities equipped to host the Combine, which requires an indoor facility where the 40-yard dash is run, and NFL hopefuls are put through a variety of position-specific drills.

Those ready-made cities include Los Angles, which is set to open its new stadium for the Ram and Chargers this fall and will also host the Super Bowl, Dallas, Minnesota, Houston, and Las Vegas, to name some.

Las Vegas is in line to host the 2022 draft, so it may be a while before the Combine heads there.

As for Philadelphia, well, the Pennsylvania Convention Center could hold the interviews that are conducted all week long between the players and media, and maybe even the weightlifting and jump portions of the event.

Even Wells Fargo can do that part of it.

It gets trickier finding an indoor facility for the on-field drills. With the event being held in winter - the most recent Combine ran from Feb. 28-March 4, 2020 - outside won’t work.

That rules out Lincoln Financial Field.

Jalen Reagor

Before he was an Eagle, Jalen Reagor met with the media at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine

About the only indoor football field is the Eagles’ practice bubble on the grounds of their training site at NovaCare Complex, but it is much too small, not even 100 yards long.

There is room around the bubble to expand, mainly a large parking area – city-owned, no doubt – so maybe, just maybe, if Lurie wants to attract the Combine, he can make some major upgrades to the bubble.

Of course, that would require negotiating with the city. Lurie and the city’s leaders always seemed to have a solid relationship, and the Eagles under Lurie are good citizens, helping in the community with a variety of projects.

Or maybe there are other avenues that can be explored by people whose job it is to do exactly that.

Bringing this event to Philadelphia is a discussion worth having because hosting the draft shined a spotlight on the city, and a positive one at that, and, more importantly to the bean counters, brought in plenty of tourism dollars.

The Combine would do the same thing, and that makes it a possibility that cannot be completely ruled out.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.