The expanded NFL Regional Combine and Super Regional Combine concept is starting to make a bigger impact on NFL rosters.
Designed to give talented players a chance to impress teams that they otherwise wouldn't have, regional combines were held in eight NFL cities before the 2012 NFL Draft, leading to the Super Regional. Only players not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine were eligible.
It appears the extra tryouts helped get quite a few players noticed. Four players that went through the system were drafted, all in the sixth round: Chicago Bears cornerback Isaiah Frey, Detroit Lions cornerback Jonte Green, Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Christo Bilukidi, and St. Louis Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein.
Seventy-two more players have signed with teams as undrafted free agents. The Tennessee Titans lead the way with six players that came from the Regional Combines, with the Atlanta Falcons (five) next in line. In 2011, 21 players that went through the process were signed by teams.
These players are long shots to make it, which is why their stories are so fun to follow. They are the players that the Draftnik Industrial Complex has ignored.
The growing number of such aspiring players making NFL rosters -- if only for the offseason -- shows that the Regional Combine concept is starting to work. The NFL hopes the Regional Combines become more of an event, a reality-show-style way to find diamonds in the rough.
The quickest way for the Regional Combines to reach critical mass would be for a star to get his start at one.