Updated February 28, 4:05 PM CT
HOUSTON,TX. - The dream of playing in the NFL ends for most football players after their final college game ends. Three-hundred and thirty, five-star players from major Division I programs begin preparation for the NFL National Combine while those from smaller schools are often overlooked.
Each year, NFL teams are paying more attention to the combines, hoping to uncover hidden gems on draft day and as undrafted free agents.
Players que-up in front of the Houston Texan's Methodist training center prior to the start of the NFL's regional combine in Houston, Tx. on Saturday. (Photo/Ran DeBord-AASNSports)
For most college football players, the coveted invite to the NFL combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis has come and gone. They may have an opportunity at their school's pro-day, but for most, It's the end of the line.
Maybe it's the competitor in them, or maybe it's their best chance to change their situation, but letting go of their dream of playing in the NFL is not something these men are ready to do. That's why we're in Houston. To attend the NFL regional combine at the Houston Texan's practice facility located adjacent to NRG stadium, home of the Houston Texans football team. Every NFL team had at least one scout in attendance.
They arrived from as far away as Rhode Island, Colorado, Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida, New York, Tennessee, and all across Texas. They're athletes who believe they have the skills to play, and players who refuse to give up on themselves.
Players complete registration with the NFL's Tyisha Smith in control. (Photo/Ran DeBord-AASNSports)
This is a serious route into the NFL where a rookie free-agent will earn the rookie minimum $465,000.00 this season, if they stay with the team.
In Houston, there are a lot of dedicated, hard-working, men and women helping and encouraging these athletes, but no parents, and no fans. I watched as a father, who drove from Colorado with his son, was not allowed to enter. It's a well-oiled machine with little wasted time, certainly no time for a pep-talk from mom or dad. They are on their on for the next three hours in the biggest job interview they'll likely ever have.
The idea: Give every deserving player the opportunity to have his talent assessed by pro scouts, while making it easier and more efficient for scouts from all 32 clubs to evaluate that talent. In the 2014 season, 63 players earned positions on NFL rosters after participating in the regional combines. And 36 of them — 57 percent — were on clubs that made the playoffs or were in playoff contention at the regular season’s end. At the start of the 2016 season, 73 regional combine players were on NFL rosters.
Players receive instructions prior to the start of the regional combine in Houston. (Photo/Ran DeBord-AASNSports)
The NFL began the Regional/Super Regional Combine series in 2012 as a supplement to the National Scouting Combine, where scouts assess the top 300 or so college players who are eligible for that year’s draft to see if they have what it takes to play at the sport’s highest level. The remaining draft-eligible players — roughly 800 of them — may not get an invitation to the national combine, but they’ll still get a chance to pursue their dream by attending one of the five Regional Combines, where they’ll show off their skills for pro scouts and try to catch on to an NFL roster.
Samuel Benjamin, WR from the University of Rhode Island going through the physical measurements station. (Photo/Ran DeBord-AASNSports)
DB - Receiving Line Drill
DB - Back Pedal, Turn and Catch
DB - “W” Drill
DB - Back Pedal, Weave, 90 Degree and Catch
DB - Back Pedal and Transition 45 Degree Reaction
DB - Close and Speed Turn Drill
DB - Back Pedal, Break Forward, Speed Turn and Catch
LB - 4-Bag Agility Drill
LB - Wave Drill
LB - 90 Degree Catch Drill
LB - Pass Rush L & R
LB - Back Pedal
LB- Back Pedal and React
DL - Punch, Hand, Shiver Drill
DL - Body Control Drill
DL - 4-Bag COD Drill
DL - Pass Rush L & R
DL - Front Wave Drill and Lateral Reaction
QB - Pocket Movement
QB - 3-5-5-7 Step Drops/Throws
QB - 7 Step Roll Out, Right and Left
QB - Throw Routes to Receivers
RB/FB - Off-tackle Reaction
RB/FB - Change of Direction (COD) Pitch Drill
RB/FB - Blast Read
RB/FB - Find the Ball Drill
RB/FB - Pass Routes
WR/TE - Sideline Tap-Tap Drill
WR/TE - Over Shoulder Catch Drill
WR/TE - Multiple Catch/Gauntlet Drill
WR/TE - Pass Routes
TE - Block Explosion
OL - COD Wave Drill
OL - Long Pull
OL - Short Pull Power
OL - Pass Pro Mirror
OL - Pass Pro Rush L & R
OL - Drop and Flip Drill
Quarterbacks: Justin Dorval #80 (Colorado Mines), Bart Houston #82 (Wisconsin), and Stephen Dane Evans #81(Tulsa), get ready to throw. (Photo/Ran DeBord-AASNSports)
40 Yard Dash
Standing Broad Jump
To participate in a Regional Combine, players must have played college football in their senior season and have used all of their NCAA college eligibility the fall prior to the upcoming NFL Draft. Players who go undrafted become free agents and can sign with any team.
“We want players to have every opportunity to showcase their talent. The guys at these events will always be able to say, ‘I may not have made it to the pros, but I left everything I’ve got out on the field.’ And those who do make it get to live out their childhood dream. It's a win-win” said Matt Birk, the NFL's football development consultant.
Jakhari Gore #133, a running back from Marian, Ind. is a cousin of Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore (sitting, below) who was in attendance. (Photo/Ran DeBord-AASNSports)
In previous years, Regional Combines were “open call”; prospective players who were eligible for the NFL draft for the first time worked out alongside players who had been out of school for two, three or four years. Some at these combines even had previous professional experience. That made it difficult for scouts to focus on the players who were eligible for that year’s draft, so for 2015 the NFL made some revisions.
Doug Webb #76, defensive tackle (Harvard), was a stand-out at the combine. A native of Richmond, Texas, Webb played in a 4-3 set in college but is talented enough to fit any scheme. He's 6-2', 280 lbs, and ran an unofficial 4.89. This young man will be playing in the NFL soon. (Photo/Ran DeBord-AASNSports)
By restricting the participants in the Regional Combines to those eligible for the current draft, the league enabled teams to focus only on the players who could end up on their draft board. It benefited the players by giving them an environment where they get greater attention from scouts in the only year they can be drafted by an NFL team.
Nigel Harris (below), an OLB from South Florida, loses his glasses but still performed well. (Photo/Ran DeBord-AASNSports)
Tiyun Avery (below), CB from Henderson State appears to make an incredible catch. (Photo/Ran DeBord-AASNSports)
Between the National and the Regional Combines, the NFL will work out about 1,000 draft-eligible guys.
Ryan Shakeir (below), WR out of Northwestern State, climbs the ladder during the vertical jump portion of the combine. The speedy wide receiver, at 5'-8"/170lbs, ran an official 4.36, and 4.39. (Photo/Ran DeBord-AASNSports)
Devlon Wortham (142), a running back out of Southeastern Oklahoma, ran an un-official 4.3 on both of his attempts, and is said to have jumped a 38.5" vert. Times are unofficial until confirmed by the NFL, but that's what we clocked him at. (Photo/Ran DeBord-AASNSports)
Quentin Parks, OLB Texas A&M Kingsville, runs the 4 bag agility drill. (Photo/Ran DeBord-AASNSports)
Players who are no longer in their draft year that have signed a contract and have recent experience on a NFL team still have a venue to display their talent — the new Pro Personnel Combine. This option is available to players who were on a training camp roster during the previous preseason but were not on a 53-man roster following the 75-man roster reductions or whose contracts expire at the end of the current league year.
Memo from NFLCombine: To register for NFL Regional Combines players must register online at www.nflregionalcombines.com.
If you would like to speak to an NFL representative, please call 212-450 2434 or email us at email@example.com A registration fee of $160.00 will be charged for each position player combine. Players may only attend one (1) combine location.
Payment must be made by credit card; no walk-ups are permitted. The deadline to complete registration for a Combine is 12:00 AM EST, on the Monday prior to the Combine that they have selected to attend. Please understand that registration will not be complete or spot reserved until a background check has been completed and payment has been received.
There are only 150 spots available at each position combine. We encourage players to register early to guarantee the combine location of choice. If any of your players would like to try out as a long snapper they would need to register for a position player combine.
Players who will exhaust their eligibility at the conclusion of the 2016 college football season cannot register until after the completion of their college season; however, once your season has concluded we encourage all players to register as early as possible to guarantee the combine location of their choice.
Please note that you should advise your players to register for a Combine that does not conflict with their school's Pro Day. A Regional Combine workout should not be viewed as a replacement for a pro day, but an additional opportunity to be noticed by scouts.
If any of your players register for an NFL Regional Combine and are subsequently invited to the National Scouting Combine, they will receive a full registration fee refund if they decide to cancel their NFL Regional Combine registration.
On behalf of the National Football League, we would like to thank you for making your players aware of this valuable opportunity to participate in the NFL Regional Combines.
Andre Adams – Arkansas-Monticello
DeSean Anderson – Eastern New Mexico
Tiyun Avery – Henderson State
Isaiah Brown – New Mexico
Jalen Champagne – Colorado Mines
Clarence Counts – Graceland University
Tevin Creeks – West Texas A&M
Jamal Ellis – Fresno State
Duane Elmore – Bethel, Tenn.
Cortland Fort – Sam Houston State
Tavares Garner – Henderson State
Ricky Green – Missouri Southern
Marcus Harris – Southeastern Oklahoma
Deadrick Jones – Morgan State
Forrest Jones – Texas A&M-Kingsville
Jordan Norris – Northwestern Oklahoma State
De’Aundre Sanders – Eastern New Mexico University
Teddy Spann – Houston Baptist -
Donovan Starks – Kansas State
David Stevenson – Fayetteville State
Justin Thomas – Utah
Will Watson – Bowling Green
Kevin Wharry – Angelo State
Raheem Wilson – Southeastern Oklahoma
Aaron Young – Old Dominion
Chris Brockman – Colorado Mines
Robert Gardner – Southeastern Oklahoma
Christopher Goss III – Missouri Southern
Khyle Jackson – North Alabama
DeAndre James – Fort Hays State
Kevin Jones – Southeastern Oklahoma
Dikingson Juste – Florida Atlantic
Will Lacy – Lane
Michael Mathis – Emporia State
Ari Nelson – Houston Baptist
Chad Nolan – Missouri Southern
Ryan Stantos – New Mexico
Evan Scott – Langston
Darius Thomas – Henderson State
Gary Vines – Henderson State
Dondre Wright – Henderson State
Brandon Berry – Buffalo
Justin Dixon – Valdosta State
Willie Duncan III – Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Javonte’ Kelly – Lane
Shawn Petty – Marshall
George Stone III – Stephen F. Austin
Okezie Adim-Madumere – Northwestern State, La
Selwyn Carroll, Jr. – Valdosta State
Teron Fitzgerald – Texas State
Nigel Harris – South Florida
Thomas Hoskins – Colorado Mines
Quentin parks – Texas A&M-Kingsville
KyRandall Smith – Saint Mary
Teidrick Smith – Mary Hardin-Baylor
Thaurean Trahan – Texas College
Logan Troutman – Wisconsin Lutheran
DE Siupeli Anau – Northern Arizona
DE De’Andre Glover – Emporia State
DE Brian Madunezim – Texas-El Paso
DE Ashton McKenzie – Miles
DE Steven Rhodes – Middle Tennessee
DT Daniel Awoleke – South Florida
DT Darian Childers-Brown – Midwestern State
DT Ja’Michael Edwards-Lott – Nicholls State
DT Dallas Fields – Colorado Mines
DT Kerry Holiday – Midwestern State
DT Calvin Lyons – Southern Arkansas
DT Motekiai Maile – Oklahoma State
DT Jordan Toliver – Central Arkansas
DT Dean Tsopanides – New Haven
DT Doug Webb – Harvard
DT Kevin Williams – Michigan State
NT Glen Antoine – Idaho
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