The NFL may be close to turning the yearly scouting combine into more of a reality show according to the New York Post in an attempt to draw even more eyeballs to the yearly event, once a forgotten footnote on the NFL's offseason schedule that has gained a fanatical following in recent years. Combine viewership has nearly doubled over the last five years, with 6.51 million people watching last year compared to just 3.7 million in 2007.
One of the proposed changes to the combine involves the ten regional combines turned into an American Idol-style competition, with players at the regional sessions vying to earn an invitation to the national combine as well. There's no word as to how the competition would work, since it's obviously just an idea being floated around right now, but I don't think there would really be a panel of analysts judging players in the mold of the American Idol judges panel.
Another potential change the NFL is looking at making involves turning the combine itself into a competition, making players compete against each other in various events so that viewers can get emotionally invested in the drills. Could you imagine watching two offensive lineman running the 40-yard dash against one another for the bragging rights of fastest time at the combine?
But with these ideas comes a downside: turning the combine into a reality show destroys the original objective of it, which is for team executives and coaching staffs to evaluate players prior to the draft. If the combine turns into a competition, there's a pretty high chance of the true talents of each player getting overshadowed by the results of the competition. Players who are merely "combine warriors" sometimes turn into busts – would glorifying their numbers in Indy have an actual effect on the draft process or send some of those players further up draft boards?
If the NFL starts tampering with the original spirit of the combine and turning it into some sort of "rookie showdown" type reality show, I think it'll actually turn fans off at the end of the day. As constructed right now, the combine is a unique, albeit very bland, event. Changing it into a reality show might make it more interesting to the casual viewer, but it would hurt the appeal to the diehard fan and possibly even hurt the integrity of the draft process.