There were ZERO players selected from Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the 2021 NFL Draft and less than 10 signed as Undrafted free agents. This has been a problem for years even decades for these schools as Power Five schools continue to deplete HBCUs of talent. The NFL is making an attempt to fix things by implementing an HBCU Combine to help build a relationship with HBCUs and give more exposure to players.
The mission of the Combine is to provide exposure, mentorship, and development opportunities for HBCU prospects. Also, simplify talent identification and prospect evaluation.
Here are the goals for the 2022 HBCU Combine:
- 100 participants
- Increase the amount of HBCU players drafted and signed as UDFAs (2021: 0 drafted, less than 10 signed as UDFAs)
- Elevate the perception of HBCU athletes and the HBCU Combine; hosting the event in partnership with Senior Bowl provides additional credibility
- Build relationship between NFL and incoming players (mentorship with current NFL players and Legends)
- Engage cross-functional working group to build plan/content/engagement to elevate HBCU Combine and generate partnerships
- Maximize publicity of Combine on broadcast/social media utilizing NFL Network talent, Legends, current players, and influencers in the HBCU space
- Incorporate unique programming or event
- Collaborate with Sponsorship to explore partnership interest
- Provide experience opportunities for football personnel (athletic training, video…). Similar initiatives during other tentpole events
The league has a well thought out plan as to what events will take place, when, and where. It is a three-day event going from January 28-30, 2022. The first two days will be arrivals followed by workouts the next day and finally departures.
Here is the exact schedule of each day:
Friday, January 28
AM: Players arrive
- Administration (Registration/Measurables/Medicals/Drug Testing)
- Evening Program
- Welcome Meeting
- Club Interviews
Saturday, January 29
- On-Field Workouts
- Club Interviews/Departures
Sunday, January 30
The location will be in Mobile, Alabama at the University of South Alabama Training Center.
The NFL has various Success factors such as; Number of NFL clubs attending Combine, Number of players drafted/signed as UDFAs based on previous years
and also a career path for interns.
A great opportunity this can be for a lot of young players who might not get that little extra exposure. This can also allow high schoolers to see that going to an HBCU doesn’t mean you won’t get the same opportunities to go to the NFL. A lot of NFL greats came from HBCUs like Jerry Rice, Walter Payton, and Steve McNair. This allows HBCUs to come full circle and eventually put these schools back on the map.