This week, more than 300 top college football players are participating in the NFL Scouting Combine, a week-long event that is essentially a job interview for athletes hoping to play professionally next season. They’ll compete in a variety of drills, like a bench press, vertical jump, and the 40-yard dash.
As a result, there is a wealth of data produced during the combine, and two Seattle-area companies are helping streamline how that information is recorded in real-time and stored for later analysis.
Bellevue-based Explore Consulting teamed up with Microsoft to build the NFL Combine Dashboard, a software platform that runs on Surface tablets used by scouts during the event to access player information and test results, in addition to daily and weekly schedules for each athlete.
Explore Consulting CEO Steve Jones told GeekWire that his 50-person firm has worked with the National Football Scouting group for a decade to provide technology that helps the league manage data reporting at the Combine.
The latest iteration was done in partnership with Microsoft, which inked its own five-year, $500 million deal with NFL in 2013. This season, Explore Consulting built a custom Windows app for the Surface tablets. Jones said the new tech helps scouts worry less about tracking data and focus more on actually watching the players. Having real-time data at their fingertips also enables scouts to better prepare for player interviews.
For example, when a player crosses the 40-yard-dash finish line, the electronic times are instantaneously posted to the Combine Dashboard. Jones said there has been good feedback from NFL team personnel.
“It’s fun to have the football guys come up to us unsolicited and say we did a great job with the app,” Jones said. “It’s very rewarding.”
Explore Consulting also works with local teams like the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders to assist with tech-related needs.
“The sports industry is really starting to see the value of implementing more technology,” Jones said. “We are starting to get more interest from teams that want to be more efficient and nimble.”
There is plenty of other neat technology being utilized at this year’s Combine, including virtual reality.