|Michael Conroy / Associated Press|
|A Regional Combine played a key role in Colts linebacker Josh McNary's pursuit of an NFL career.|
The NFL is set to expand its Regional Combine program in 2014, holding 14 events in 10 cities next February and March leading up to a Super Regional Combine in Detroit on April 12-13, the league announced Thursday.
These combines are open to all players eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft but not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, players eligible for previous drafts that have never signed an NFL contract, and players that have played professionally in some capacity but have been out of action for a period of time.
"The regional combines are gaining in popularity with NFL teams," NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah said as training camps opened this year. "Every team receives a copy of the testing numbers, but more and more teams are beginning to send their own scouts to these workouts."
"As a general manager, I am always looking for opportunities to get information on as many college players as I can," Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "The NFL Regional Combines are another resource I can use."
NFL Super Regional CombineCheck out images from the 2013 NFL Super Regional Combine, which was held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Fifty participants in the 2013 Regional Combine are on NFL rosters, with 30 on active rosters. Among the notable players that went through the Regional Combines this year include Seattle Seahawks quarterback B.J. Daniels and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Josh McNary.
A walk-on at Army, McNary is now on the Colts' practice squad after two years of military service.
"It was huge and it was really beneficial," McNary said. "It was really my only opportunity to get times and stats on paper. When it came down to it, the combine was like my last resort, my last and only hope to get these numbers on paper and get some good looks."
The regional combines represent an opportunity for overlooked players like McNary to show their abilities in front of scouts and executives, but also point out a flaw with the system of pro days that dominate college campuses over the same timespan.
Conference rules limits participation in such events only to former players of that school. That prohibition kept Cal Poly wide receiver Ramses Barden from catching passes from Mark Sanchez at USC in April 2009.
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.