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Have you ever had the dream of playing for an NFL team but just don’t feel like you have been given a fair shake? While NFL teams don’t often sign players with no football experience, there is hope for players to tryout for a team and make an NFL roster.
Yes, you can try out for an NFL team. Each week throughout the season, teams typically bring in unsigned free agents for workouts, but the chances of these players getting signed by the team are usually low.
Tryouts used to be the only way to get in front of NFL scouts and showcase your game, but with the growth of video and the internet, it is much easier for prospects to get their name out by submitting highlight videos.
Players often send their highlight tapes to scouts, and if the scout likes what he sees, then the player may get invited to a team’s weekly tryout.
What do Players do at an NFL Tryout?
If you are wondering what an NFL team tryout might look like, look no further than the NFL scouting combine in the spring leading up to the NFL draft.
An NFL tryout may look different depending on the position a player plays, but almost all of them consist of running a 40-yard dash, agility drills, and other position-specific football drills.
For example, a quarterback will spend most of his time at an NFL tryout throwing passes to receivers running routes. A defensive lineman will spend most of his time doing agility and pass rushing drills to showcase his ability.
As mentioned earlier, the tryout is the second step in getting seen by NFL teams. The use of video is essential in the scouting world, so players who are hoping to make it on an NFL team should make sure they have a highlight tape ready to send to teams.
What do NFL Teams Look for at a Tryout?
While different teams have different indicators they look for in scouting, there are a few things that just about every team considers when looking to sign players.
Teams consider all of the following when scouting a player at a tryout: size, speed, experience, intelligence, and the team’s needs. The most important of these is the team’s needs.
During the NFL season – when these tryouts are often held – the team is not always looking for a diamond in the rough. They are mostly interested in filling a void on the team. Most of the time, these voids are left by injuries.
If a team has multiple wide receivers on the injured reserve list, then they might bring in several wide receivers looking for an NFL home to their weekly tryouts. They may bring in other players at other positions as well, but their focus would likely be on what they need at that moment.
Size and speed are two of the most crucial aspects of evaluating an NFL prospect. While there is precedent of undersized players having success at the professional level, most teams hope to sign players who have the size and speed similar to the average NFL player at his position.
Experience and intelligence are important factors that teams evaluate when bringing in players for tryouts as well. If a team has a lot of young but talented players at a certain position, they may look to sign a more experienced player in tryouts to help guide the young group.
Inexperience can sometimes be of value to scouts as well. If a player is extremely talented but lacks experience, teams who have the patience to help mold that player into a more polished prospect may be willing to take a chance on a less experienced player.
Can You Try Out for Other Professional Football Leagues?
For players who never get a shot at the NFL, there is still hope to play professional football as there are other professional leagues that grant players that opportunity.
Yes, you can try out for other professional football leagues like the USFL, the XFL, and the CFL, but the tryout process may look a bit different, but in all of them, highlight tapes are often the first step to gaining a tryout.
Some of these leagues have scouting combines and a draft much like the NFL. Players have to be invited to the combine by a scout and are then given the opportunity to showcase their skills.
Sometimes, playing in these professional leagues can serve as a tryout for an NFL team. Take Carolina Panthers quarterback PJ Walker for example. He played in the XFL in 2020 and led the league in most passing categories before the league was shut down due to COVID-19.
He then went on to sign with the Carolina Panthers whose coach at the time, Matt Rhule, coached Walker in college.
When and Where is the NFL Draft Combine?
The NFL Draft Combine typically takes place in the spring leading up to the NFL Draft. The combine normally takes place in Indianapolis.