I’ve been in the professional sports world for a long time, and I’ve had a front-row seat to a lot of cool “moments in history.” But I think the one that will be most talked about 10 years from now is the digital transformation occurring right now in the NFL. The way football games and practices are fundamentally played, measured, optimized, and even reported is changing in a big way, as is the way players are scouted.
For the first time ever, several player performance metrics analyzed at the 2022 NFL Combine were captured via radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. So, we were able to do something never before possible at a Combine: objectively document how well a player changes directions, accelerates, or deaccelerates. I mean, the numbers were right there on the screen.
And we’ve seen many more RFID-captured metrics streaming across our TV and computer screens the last few years via the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, which are broadcast live on game day and then shared with coaches, players, fans, and others for post-game analysis. Some teams are even using this technology and the data it generates to improve practice decisions and outcomes, as well as player health and safety. Player performance is no longer subjective, and the stories we tell about what’s happening on the field are no longer hyperbole. In turn, we’re seeing much of the debate and guesswork removed from scouting, training or strategy decisions (even if the stats coming out of the games or the Combine will lead to some heated debates about players’ potential.)
But the point I want to emphasize is that the NFL’s growing use of RFID technology on the field means we can benchmark each player’s performance and then analyze it comparatively to other players as well as their own past performances.
In fact, this is exactly what my co-host Hale Hentges and I did in our latest episode of Chalk Talk.
We put our analyst hats on for 30 minutes and did a deep-dive on what – and who – stood out during 2022 NFL Combine. We also chatted about what the use of player tracking technology in settings like this year’s college bowl games and the Combine could mean come NFL Draft time. What story will this data tell about each player? And will coaches, scouts and other decision-makers look at and think about individual players and their larger club strategy in new ways?
Find out the conclusion we came to…