USA TODAY Sports
Seattle plays host to a regional combine for over 250 NFL hopefuls this weekend at the VMAC.
Per NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson, "The NFL Regional Combine program provides players - who may not have had the chance before - the opportunity to work out for NFL personnel executives. It allows all 32 clubs a chance to further evaluate future prospects."
The top players from the Regional Combines are then selected to attend the NFL's Super Regional Combine, which takes place in Dallas. While only a few NFL team scouts will be present at the actual individual Regional Combines, a group of former front office personnel and former scouts associated with the program will be making the selections as to which players should get invites to the Super Regional, and it's expected that most (or all) teams will be present for that.
There have already been NFL Regional Combines in Hawaii, Los Angeles, Houston, Cleveland, New Jersey, Tampa, Chicago and Atlanta, and Baltimore also will host one this weekend. Positional players will work out on Saturday and specialists will be evaluated on Sunday.
While the vast, vast majority of players in attendance will not make NFL clubs this year, I honestly wouldn't put it past Seattle, after the Draft concludes, to end up signing a few UDFA types that make their way through the VMAC this week, at least for training camp or further tryouts at team's rookie camp. Because players that went through the Draft process last season are allowed to attend again, some free agents can be signed on the spot.
Only 14 players that took part in these Regional Combines last season ended up sticking with pro teams on their 53-man roster, while another 14 were on Practice Squads. Interestingly enough, Seahawks TE Sean McGrath was one of that group, and finished 2012 on the Seahawks' 53.
Perhaps even more intriguing - and I never thought I'd say this - is the kickers/punters portion of the weekend. Seattle is currently without a clear-cut option at the kicker position with Steven Hauschka a restricted free agent and Carson Wiggs wholly unproven. Considering "Legatron" Greg Zuerlien was one player 'discovered' by the Rams at these events last year, I would think Seattle is taking this weekend pretty seriously.
Note: Eric Williams has an interesting story over at the TNT about 6'10, 265 pound local prospect and former basketball player Maurice Shaw - who will be attempting to impress the Seahawks at tight end in a similar manner that Darren Fells did so a few weeks ago.
ABOUT THE REGIONAL COMBINES:
"Former agent/entrepreneur, Steve Austin, started the camps in 1989. He wanted to create a venue where scouts from the NFL, CFL, AFL, and other leagues can evaluate those who were left behind by the system. Thus, he created Scout Camp, which was a traveling audition for any and all who wanted to get in front of scouts. In the early days many scouts didn't show up. Sometimes there were ten, others times there was just one. Scout Camp was a great tool for the CFL and the AFL but the NFL pulled very few players from the system.
Today, the Regional Combines did make an impact last season on the NFL landscape. Although there was not any Kurt Warner type finds, there were 87 players in 2012 that were signed by NFL teams, 4 of which were drafted in the sixth round. By the end of the 2012 season, 14 of the 87 players finished on 53 man rosters and another 14 finished on practice squads. Starting Rams' kicker, Greg Zuerlien and punter, Johnny Hekker, were both by-products of the Regional Combine."
Essentially, these Regional Combines exist to provide those that missed out on a Combine invite the opportunity to work out in front of NFL teams. It's pretty intriguing, and for a team like the Seahawks, who have shown a penchant to scout under every rock in the US and abroad, it's invaluable.