Participation was at an all-time high at last year's combine, a trend NFL teams can be cautiously optimistic about continuing for a few reasons. First, the RCA Dome's surface is now synthetic Fieldturf and is no longer viewed as a slow track. In fact, an AFC West scout told me, "Of the players who ran 40s both at the combine and on-campus last year, more than 75 percent ran faster in Indy."
Second, the elite prospects who elected to participate -- either fully or partially in the workout portion of last year's combine -- benefited from that decision. In addition to impressing NFL decision-makers with their competitiveness, players like WR Calvin Johnson (No. 2 overall, Detroit), OT Joe Thomas (No. 3 overall, Cleveland) and RB Adrian Peterson (No. 7 overall, Minnesota) posted outstanding test results. Finally, the recent increase in media exposure serves as a valuable marketing tool. Now that the combine is telecasted live, agents are far more likely to encourage clients to partake.
There will be lots of speculation regarding whether this year's top prospects will participate. While a report may accurately depict a player's intention at the time, intentions have proven to be penetrable over the years. It is commonplace for a prospect to board a plane to Indianapolis intent on not working out, then 72 hours later find himself on the ground stretching for his second 60-yard shuttle attempt.