The NFL Scouting combine is an invite-only week-long event where college players perform physical and mental drills in front of NFL scouts and coaches so that they can try and get the best possible position in the upcoming draft.
These are all replicated in the Madden series but this year's games have the added attention of being the first in the franchise that will be played on next-gen consoles. The PS5 and Xbox Series X. can unleash new power and functionality that might make the game even more immersive.
Madden gamers have long been calling for improvements to the level of immersion when it comes to Franchise Mode and specifically scouting prospects for the Draft. We have covered it multiple times in the hope someone at EA Sports is listening.
So, what is the problem?
The game is good, in fact much improved in Madden 20. But with the focus often on MUT, there is still a gap in the depth to the franchise mode. This is especially obvious when you see the scenarios and editing available in other sports games like NBA 2K.
In Madden, there is a certain game week where the NFL Combine happens and the output is that you see where each player rates for their position across a handful of drills.
OVERLY-SIMPLIFIED: Grouped stats with three tiers of reveal
These results can also be used to work out roughly what stats they might have for different skills. For example, a WR getting 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash gives you a small window to estimate what their speed stat will be.
You also get a couple of combine related stories that help you guess the development trait. But this is it, and the scenarios are shallow. This means they are easily documented on the internet, but also they get very predictable. If you are in a CFM with 32 users who all pay even the smallest bit of attention to the draft and scouting - there's not much left after round 2.
What do we want EA Sports to do?
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There are a few relatively simple things EA Sports can do to improve this;
- Increase the depth of combine scenarios
Having more draft stories would be an easy start. Making them more dynamic and less easy to predict. They should make the reddit fans really have to work to log them all down and see every eventuality!
Have players missing the combine, have them attending and smashing a certain drill. Every year there is a star of the combine who rises up draft boards - and vice versa.
- Increase the variability of scenarios
Making the results more volatile and difficult to predict would increase the levels of interest in a simple to implement way. By making it so that there is a swing of potential outcomes depending on scores would make everything much less predictable and more like real life. One player running 4.5-second 40-yard dash shouldn't mean they come out with the same speed stat. One might have worked to peak for the combine, another might have not performed their best on the day.
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- Create scouting reports
At the moment there are no written reports, and there are no scouts. The only managed variable is the extra Scouting points you unlock with a coaching upgrade. This is very basic.
There should be descriptions as outlined by the amazing tweet from Deuce Douglas outlined here. Depending on how much you focus on a player should increase the number of notes you collect on them.
- Add scouting staff with variable ability
Another element of variability would be to have different scouts to hire. If you pay more, you get better scouts who are more accurate with what they find and can find out more. Hopefully, this pays off. Equally, you might take more of a risk, or go for a scout that is more data-focused for example. There are hundreds of ways this could go, which is already happening in NBA 2k games.