HomecolumnPre-Draft Visits: NFL Speed Dating

Pre-Draft Visits: NFL Speed Dating

The NFL’s Get-To-Know-You Dance Can Be Critical For Players

While most people are familiar with the NFL Draft and college pro days, it’s the activities between now and the draft that remain somewhat elusive to the public.

We receive pre-draft updates on player movements, but that’s typically the extent of available information.

The crucial aspect of the evaluation process is kept behind closed doors.

Teams either extend invitations to prospects to visit their city or make the journey to the player’s home for private workouts, gathering invaluable insights.

Yet, from the player’s point of view, this experience can often resemble speed dating rather than a precursor to a lasting partnership.

The pre-draft visit can feel like speed-dating for an NFL prospect
The pre-draft visit can feel like speed-dating for an NFL prospect

Here’s how the process unfolds:

Teams notify agents well in advance about their intention to arrange a visit, allowing for proper logistical planning, especially if the athlete has multiple trips lined up.

Once a prospect travels to a city, they are prohibited from conducting workouts for that particular team.

Workouts are restricted to the university they attended or a mutually agreed-upon location (not an NFL facility).

It’s crucial to remember that this is a professional business meeting, so players typically dress in business casual attire.

These visits serve several vital purposes. Firstly, they provide additional face time with the coaching staff and any personnel who haven’t yet had the chance to meet the prospect.

While on-field performance is undoubtedly a major factor, a significant portion of a professional athlete’s time is spent in meetings, individual coaching sessions, and small group work.

In a field crowded with talented athletes, if any personal concerns surface during everyday workplace interactions — something you wouldn’t discern from game footage alone — it could become a distinguishing factor.

If you have two individuals in the same position, seemingly equal in most aspects, but one appears to be much more cooperative and easy to work with, that’s not insignificant in this fast-paced evaluation process.

Every action is watched and measured…so do I order a beer? Do I have dessert?

Next, it’s an opportunity to assess the player’s football intelligence, whether through film analysis, playbook walkthroughs, or whiteboard quizzes.

These quizzes are typically documented by teams for later comparison with other prospects.

Given that other players may be on the trip, not every staff member is present for every meeting with every player.

The quizzes cover material that the player may have received earlier or moments before the test, revealing their ability to process information quickly.

The NFL’s dynamic schemes undergo more frequent changes than college programs, underscoring the importance of solid recall and adaptability.

After the meetings, the player enjoys a well-appointed dinner courtesy of the team, setting the stage for a getting-to-know-you process.

Every action is observed and assessed, allowing both parties to gauge the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship.

You’re aware that you’re under evaluation, but the extent of it… remains somewhat uncertain.

Should you opt for the most expensive item on the menu or the more modest choice? Should you take cues from the staff or assert your preferences, and would a quarterback view that negatively?

Should you order a drink? Indulge in dessert? These questions, while perhaps a touch neurotic, underscore the awareness that everything is being scrutinized.

It’s a human evaluating another human situation, and these initial impressions are bound to have some influence.

And just as swiftly as it began, the encounter concludes. Players return to their opulent lodgings and prepare for their next visit or return home.

And just as swiftly as it began, the encounter concludes. Players return to their opulent lodgings and prepare for their next visit or return home.

Image via titansonline.com, Missouri DE Shane Ray visits the Tennessee Titans
Image via titansonline.com, Missouri DE Shane Ray visits the Tennessee Titans

A team might also opt for a workout at the player’s university or a designated venue.

Typically, teams choose the town’s top-notch restaurant for further evaluation, yet it’s essentially a repeat of the same dance.

The following day’s workout is tailored to address the specific questions the team has.

In the case of a quarterback, the drills and throws they’re asked to perform are usually aligned with the requirements of that particular team’s offense.

The coaching staff has spent months speculating on whether the player can seamlessly fit into their system.

This moment is critical for teams as it involves actual simulations of what the player will be doing in their system – a departure from projections made at nearly every other stage of the process thus far.

While these moments can be highly revealing, the actual insights from these front-line assessments remain shielded from the public.

Meetings may also be held at the school, often involving film and whiteboards.

Franchises go to great lengths to instill confidence in the player, making them feel like “their guy.”

However, this can be a somewhat awkward situation because it’s clear that not every team can ultimately select you. The notion of being “their guy” can’t hold in every instance.

Right after the workout and meetings, the team swiftly moves on to the next prospect, repeating the process repeatedly.

It’s a rapid cycle, akin to a one-night stand for everyone except that one team that ultimately drafts you, which could potentially lead to a harmonious partnership.


Adding to the complexity, it’s not uncommon for players to be drafted by teams that didn’t bring them in for a visit—no speed date, just a direct proposal.

This raises the question of whether the visit might be a smokescreen designed to mislead another team.

In all of these scenarios, these visits and workouts remain shrouded in secrecy.

Any information that trickles out tends to be superficial, yet these visits can potentially wield the most significant influence in the courtship process.

Then again, they might not. This ambiguity is what keeps everyone on their toes throughout the entire process.

As a player, you board the plane again, your mind racing with questions:

What just transpired? It felt positive…I believe it went well. But does any of it genuinely count?

You also allow yourself to daydream. Could that team be the one? Can you envision yourself residing in that city, representing that organization, donning that uniform?

Pre-draft visits may be an unconventional process, yet they hold significant importance.

It’s all about finding your comfort zone. A franchise’s confidence in a prospect ensures a draft day selection that benefits all parties involved.

At times, the player is simply along for the ride.

Aditya Rana
Aditya Rana
Aditya is a student currently pursuing his Bachelors degree in Business Studies. He is a writing enthusiast who enjoys creating unique contents, especially about the sports industry.


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