The 2022 NFL Draft is less than two months away, and in the days leading up to the marquee event of the offseason, there's sure to be analysis, speculation and predications abound throughout the football universe. That process is already underway, but it kicks into high gear this week as the NFL Scouting Combine begins in Indianapolis.
Here's everything you need to know about this year's event.
1. The Combine is in many ways the unofficial beginning of the NFL offseason.
The new league year (and the onset of free agency) doesn't begin until March 16, but the Combine represents the first major league event since the conclusion of Super Bowl LVI. It not only serves as an opportunity for teams to amass information on hundreds of Draft-eligible prospects, but also as a chance for league executives, coaches and media members to gather in one central location.
It's taken place in Indianapolis for more than three decades, and a year after the in-person aspects of the event were cancelled due to the pandemic, the Combine is back for the 2022 offseason.
2. More than 300 players were invited to show what they could do in Indianapolis.
Exactly 324 players were invited to the Combine this year, including a handful of players with local ties. In fact, this year's event invited two players from the University of Missouri (running back Tyler Badie and defensive back Akayleb Evans), one player from Kansas State University (quarterback Skylar Thompson) and one player from Missouri Western State University (defensive back Sam Webb).
Additionally, Arizona State running back Rachaad White, who attended Center High School, and Clemson defensive back Mario Goodrich, an alum of Lee's Summit West High School, were also invited.
For a full list of invitees, click here.
3. Those players will have the opportunity to compete in several on-field drills.
Participants may choose to compete in a variety of drills at the Combine, including the 40-yard dash, the bench press, the vertical jump, the broad jump, the three-cone drill and the shuttle run.
Here's a quick breakdown of why each of those drills matters by ESPN Draft Analyst Todd McShay, whose detailed writeup can be found by clicking here.
40-Yard Dash: "For wide receivers and running backs, breakaway speed can be the difference between a modest gain and a game-changing play," McShay wrote. "A measurable combination that NFL evaluators pay close attention to for cornerbacks is length (height and arms) and 40 speed. Safety is another position to keep an eye on, particularly for players who will be asked to cover a lot of ground in the deep middle of the field."
Vertical Jump: "The vertical can be an important indicator for wide receivers, tight ends and cornerbacks, but don't forget about running backs and defensive ends," McShay wrote. "This drill is a great judge of a player's lower-body explosiveness and ability to create power from the ground up."
20-Yard Shuttle: "Being an NFL defender is all about reaction: How quickly can you diagnose a play, come to a stop and explode toward the ball? And the 20-yard shuttle showcases a player's body control as he is changing directions," McShay wrote.
Broad Jump: "I like to see how offensive linemen and skill players perform in the broad jump," McShay wrote. "You need good lower-body explosiveness, power and flexibility to anchor in the trenches. It's also a good way to separate which offensive linemen have the athleticism to play tackle."
Three-Cone Drill: "This drill is all about assessing a player's ability to change directions quickly, bend and accelerate. Defensive backs and pass-rushers are good players to keep an eye on," McShay wrote. "Of course, a lot goes into being an elite edge rusher, but most of the NFL's best register outstanding times in the three-cone."
Bench Press: "The bench tests upper-body strength by seeing how many times players can put up 225 pounds," McShay wrote. "Let's be honest: While it may be the most fun to watch, the bench press is the least important of all these non-football-related drills, but it does provide insight into the upper-body strength of an athlete, which tends to apply most to interior offensive and defensive linemen. There's also some small correlation for cornerbacks (for press-technique purposes)."
4. Head Coach Andy Reid and General Manager Brett Veach met with the media on Tuesday.
5. The event will run through Sunday on NFL Network.
For the first time, on-field drills will air in prime time on NFL Network beginning on Thursday and running through Sunday. Here's a quick rundown of the schedule:
March 3: Coverage of quarterback, wide receiver and tight end drills beginning at 3 p.m. CT until 10 p.m. CT.
March 4: Coverage of running back, offensive lineman and special teams' drills beginning at 3 p.m. CT until 9 p.m. CT.
March 5: Coverage of defensive lineman and linebacker drills beginning at 3 p.m. CT until 8 p.m. CT.
March 6: Coverage of defensive back drills beginning at 1 p.m. CT until 6 p.m. CT.