2019 NFL Combine: How One Week Can Mean Millions to a College Kid

See the players to watch — and the NFL salaries they could earn.
  • The NFL scouting combine lets prospective players demonstrate their skills.
  • Prospects hire specialized trainers to improve their performance in the hopes of getting drafted in the top rounds.
  • The top draft picks last year signed contracts for over $30 million.

It seems like the Super Bowl just ended, but the NFL is already looking forward to next year. The 2019 NFL scouting combine, in which potential draft picks show coaches and scouts what they can do, begins on Feb. 26 and will take place until March 4 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

At the combine, players, most of whom have not yet graduated college, will show their skills in various areas, including:

  • 40-yard dash
  • Bench press
  • Vertical jump
  • Broad jump
  • Three-cone drill
  • Shuttle run

The combine is a college standout’s best opportunity to be evaluated by NFL coaches, so some prospects work with trainers to help improve their performance at the combine. Companies that provide this service charge up to $10,000 to train athletes to give their best possible performance at the combine in the hopes of getting drafted in the top rounds.

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A Drafted NFL Rookie’s Minimum Contract: $2.37M

As far as those players who might not be among the elite selected first, the four-year minimum base salary for players in the 2018 draft were as follows:

  • $480,000 in year one
  • $555,000 in year two
  • $630,000 in year three
  • $705,000 in year four

So the minimum contract for a rookie who is drafted is $2.37 million.

An investment of $10,000 seems modest when you consider how much a prospect stands to gain if they are drafted. Many of these young athletes already have agents who are happy to pony up the money to improve their client’s chances of being selected.

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Top 3 NFL Draft Picks in 2018: Contracts Worth Over $30M

How does the NFL league minimum compare to players who were selected in the first round? The top three picks from the first round of the NFL draft in 2018 each signed contracts worth over $30 million. That’s a huge difference.

  • Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick, signed a contract with the Cleveland Browns for nearly $33 million over four years, including a more than $21 million signing bonus.
  • Saquon Barkley signed with the New York Giants for $31.2 million, almost $21 million of which is a signing bonus.
  • The New York Jets signed Sam Darnold for just over $30 million, $20 million of which he got just for signing.

Most things go up in price over time, not down, and football players are no different. But the first three picks this year should go to the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets, all of whom have higher priority needs at other positions. If the first quarterback chosen doesn’t go until the fifth or sixth pick, that could potentially keep contract sizes for the first few picks about where they were in 2018.

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Football Players to Watch in the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine

The number of players invited to the combine can vary from year to year, but a maximum of 335 players can be invited each year. Up to 256 players can be drafted. Each team of the 32 NFL teams has one pick in each of seven rounds. Plus, the league offers up to 32 compensatory picks.

Here are this year’s players to watch, according to The Bleacher Report:

  • Dwayne Haskins, Quarterback, The Ohio State University
  • Josh Jacobs, Running Back, University Alabama
  • Renell Wren, Defensive Tackle, Arizona State University
  • Nick Bosa, Defensive End, The Ohio State University
  • Andy Isabella, Wide Receiver, University of Massachusetts

The NFL combine can give a team good information about a player and can affect whether they get drafted in the top rounds and, ultimately, their salary, but it’s not always a sure thing. In 2000, a quarterback who was rated among the worst at the NFL combine, and was picked 199th overall in the draft, went on to make a name for himself in the NFL. That player?

That’s right, it was Tom Brady.

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