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Changes Await Cardinals, NFL, At Scouting Combine

Kingsbury more comfortable, but primetime TV drives schedule shift

Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy takes part in the 40-yard dash during the 2019 Scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy takes part in the 40-yard dash during the 2019 Scouting combine in Indianapolis.

The NFL Scouting combine is still in Indianapolis. It still is about player interviews, medical evaluations and on-field drills.

But this year, there has been upheaval, all in the name of television. And while the Cardinals are in a better place than last year given that coach Kliff Kingsbury has been through the process of a combine after years as a college coach, it will be another learning experience.

"I don't like the change, especially when it's a well-oiled machine that worked so well," General Manager Steve Keim said. "I understand the big picture when it comes to the National Football League and the amount of excitement that this thing generates and the money that the league can earn. But to go from nighttime interviews to having day-time interviews, and nighttime workouts, it's really thrown a wrench into it for us."

The moves are predicated on getting the on-field work – arguably the least important part of the combine for teams – into primetime viewing hours for the NFL Network. So the bones of the normal combine structure have been flipped, with the interviews going on during the day and the workouts at night.

It's not just the schedule that has changed. Player interviews have been moved from the players' hotel to Lucas Oil Stadium. And the interviews have been cut back – what used to be 60 sessions at 15 minutes has been changed to only 45 at 18 minutes each.

"It's hard when a number of those players, it's the only access we have to them," Keim acknowledged. "We only have 30 visits (to the team facility) in the spring. There are only so many pro days we can get to, only so many individual workouts we can get to. Now they have cut back.

"I put more importance on going to the Senior Bowl, which sort of changed its ways with (its own) nightly interview setup. Kliff and I got a chance to talk to at least 10 to 12 players (in Mobile), which really took a little bit of the heat off of us when it comes to the access we have to the guys in Indy."

Kingsbury's second trip to Indy will help in the process, from the standpoint that he has not only learned what information comes out of the combine and logistics but also what philosophically the Cardinals are trying to get out of each segment.

"I definitely have more of a comfort level," Kingsbury said. "I was kind of feeling everything out last year. But I really enjoyed it, being around those college players, you see the excitement they have for being there and you get a great feel for them. Those personal interviews, you understand who they are and what they are about.

"It's a big draft for us. We know we have to stack another really good class on top of the one we just had this past year."

Having familiarity helps – "We're creatures of habit," Keim said – and the hope is that it can offset some of the uncertainty of the new version of the combine.

"You'd be naïve to think there will not be some hiccups," Keim said. "When those hiccups happen, you just have to do your best to maneuver."

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