NFL Combine 2021: Zennie Abraham’s Idea For How To Produce What Would Be A Virtual, Multi-Day Event
According to Albert Breer, via Sports Illustrated, The NFL Combine that Indianapolis, Indiana has regularly welcomed in early March will not be held due to The Pandemic. And the League is deep in talks regarding how the new, “Virtual NFL Combine”, will work.
From what Albert reported, it does not seem as if the NFL Combine is going to be designed as an entertainment property; they’re just trying to figure out how to do the activity of prospect evaluation, period. So, with the idea of restoring the NFL’s move toward making the NFL Combine much like the NFL Draft in terms of fan-enjoyment, I have what are the broad, brushstrokes of a concept. I will update this as I work through the plan, and any feedback on it, in the coming days.
The NFL Combine As Web Portal, Absent A Convention Center
I think the NFL Combine should have a website portal within NFL.com, and designed such that there’s a page that lists all of the prospects, and then each one is grouped by position. In turn, each position group has it’s set of virtual rooms: each prospect has a set of StreamYard rooms for NFL-directed workouts, and another set of public rooms for interviews.
The private rooms for NFL-directed workouts would work like this. Using StreamYard, which is like ZOOM, but works via your browser, rather than the need for downloads, we can have rooms for the wide receiver, quarterbacks, offensive line, defensive backs, etc. As a note, a StreamYard Room is really a webpage that has a central livestream viewing screen, chat room on the right, and avatars for the controller, at the bottom.
StreamYard is a SAAS (software as service) online network that provides for the creation of live video streaming studio. It was acquired by Hopin, an 18-month-old virtual events startup, for $250 million.
The StreamYard system is two pronged: in this case, the NFL makes the room, and sends out link “invites” to each prospect. Using YouTube, the StreamYard Account would be linked to the NFL’s YouTube Channel. The NFL would set up each position room, then use that room for each day for each position.
In turn, the prospects and the persons helping them, would set up workout locations in the cities and towns where they live to do the benchpress, 40-yard-dash, and position drills. The prospects would be provided with a laptop and a Logictech web cam. Local venues with good Internet access would be pre-determined (presumably), but StreamYard is such that the prospects can use their smartphones to film their workouts. The StreamYard invite link auto-syncs to the smartphone’s mic and camera. Guidelines for how to hold the smartphone or position the laptop, and where to place it with respect to the player’s activity, would be provided.
If all of these are done in one day, then there would be StreamYard room invite links sent out to 335 players, along with an NFL Combine Virtual Communications Kit. The NFL Combine Virtual Communications Kit would have the Logitech camera and the laptop computer (I recommend an Apple MacBook Pro), with instructions for the use of the smartphone as a backup.
NFL Sets Up StreamYard Rooms Each Of The 335 NFL Combine Prospects
So, yes, there would be 335 of these StreamYard room invite links sent out to each single prospect, in this scenario that I’m thinking of. And the NFL would make a series of StreamYard Rooms for each one of the 335 players. Why? Because of the need for individual video, and so that others necessary personnel would have their links to be in that room, like drill coaches.
Each day would be devoted to a position drill, so we have the 40-yard-dash, the vertical jump, the 20-yard shuttle, the broad jump, the three cone, and the bench press. That’s six days, one day for each position drill. Then we have the offensive and defensive drills. Each prospect would have one livestream for each position drill, so we are looking at separate rooms for each position drill, on each day.
Those drills, as of this writing, would be held on a different week, say the next week. On Monday, we would have the QB Drills, which are QB – Pocket MovementQB – 3-5-5-7 Step Drops/Throws, QB – 7 Step Roll Out, Right and Left, QB – Throw Routes to Receivers. That would take a day, done in one venue like a an indoor arena.
For the press interviews, the NFL would make new StreamYard Press Rooms for each of the 335 prospects – again, the time to make one of these “rooms” web pages, is about a minute or so. There would be a limited number of set of invites for press to obtain, per room / prospect, and which would have to be pre-determined by online sign-up forms in the NFL Communications website.
So, we have two rooms: one for performance drills and tests, and the other for press interviews. I think the standard NFL Team interviews can be done on ZOOM, since their private by nature. But the StreamYard Rooms allow auto-sync to YouTube for broadcast use. In turn, the YouTube livestreams could be used by the NFL Network for its show.
Now, this may sound like a lot of work, but it takes just about one minute to set up a single room on StreamYard, starting with pressing the “Create a Broadcast” button. And from the cost perspective, we have $1,200 for the Mac Book, plus the LogicTech C922 Pro Stream Webcam at $129, times 335 prospects, or $445,550 in cost.
Considering the attention the NFL Combine draws, I’m sure Apple would love to pay the cost for the making and distribution of NFL Combine Virtual Communications Kits, and may have an innovation or three they may want to add to the production, or do it for the NFL.
In closing, that’s my first cut at a possible solutuon for a decentralized NFL Combine. I look forward to your video comments using our Yappa network system, below.
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