Enhancing the NFL Draft with Expanded Assessment Tools

With the NFL draft just weeks away, clubs are getting more information than ever about prospective players, says an APA blog article by Mackenna Perry. The NFL Scouting Combine in February got a boost in 2013 from three I-O psychologists who have greatly expanded the range of assessments each player is put through.

This team of psychologists, Dr. Harold Goldstein, Dr. Kenneth Yusko, and Dr. Charles Scherbaum, were very encouraged by the NFL’s commitment to find unexplored talent and to constantly improve. The Combine had previously used a general intelligence test, but the team expanded the psychological assessment battery to include a comprehensive personality test (PAT) also. They had previously met with many subject matter experts and GMs from a number of clubs to best choose which competencies were most important for each starting position, and then rated each player against those competencies.

Does it work? The creative team behind the expanded assessment battery recently compared 5 years’ worth of assessment results from 1,538 players with actual performance stats to see how well the predictive analysis fared, and the results were very strong. “The scores add a lot of new information that NFL clubs can use as part of their draft decisions,” and can additionally be used for coaches to provide long-term development to the players as well, both on and off the field.

“The team cites their expertise in I-O as critical to the project’s success,” says Perry, “but they also had to use some creativity to develop and implement the assessment. Professional sports create a particularly unique environment, from a traditional personnel selection perspective, especially because of the heavy focus on physical abilities, the high level of performance players operate at, and the high-stakes and high-visibility aspects of the draft decisions that are made. Drs. Goldstein, Yusko, and Scherbaum were excited to see that their efforts paid off in such a unique context.”

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