Urban Meyer, Joel Klatt explain how pandemic has impacted scouting for 2020 NFL Draft
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted sports across the world, as many events have been cancelled, postponed and delayed over the last several weeks. While the NFL hasn’t seen the harshest effects of the global health crisis, the current situation will impact the NFL Draft.
Monday night, on FOX Football Now, analysts Urban Meyer and Joel Klatt talked about how the ongoing situation has already affected scouting for the upcoming draft — which is still scheduled for April 23-25. With several pro days canceled and several meetings being held via Skype, Zoom or FaceTime, it’s changed how teams are thinking.
Meyer explained why some of those pro days are so important to draft scouts.
“The NFL combine, what happens — and it’s really changed over the years, but — the minute a player’s done with his last bowl game, they sign with an agency and the agency basically takes them and prepares for the combine,” said Meyer. “They do the drills, whatever it may be — the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump, the bench press — and exactly the same drills they do, I watched it for many, many years. But also, they put them with these interview experts that teach them how to interview well. And if there is a player issue, then how to maybe somehow skip past that hard question. That’s why the coaches and the GMs sometimes really love pro days, because it’s on campus, you saturate the really good organization, saturate yourself.”
Yes, the NFL was still able to complete the Scouting Combine before the sports world shut down for the foreseeable future. A few hundred college athletes had the opportunity to show off their skills in front of scouts, coaches and general managers.
But that doesn’t mean some of the decision-makers aren’t a little worried about the upcoming draft.
“I was talking to a bunch of NFL guys in the past few weeks. Some of them are in a panic because they used those pro days — that’s where they really get the information,” Meyer said. “The combine’s a meat market — it’s chaos. If you’ve ever been to the combine, there’s a couple hundred athletes there, there’s coaches, there’s all kinds of craziness going on. The best information they tell goes on campus.”
With pro days canceled, and the changes in scouting, Klatt believes that a lot will now depend on game film.
“From a player perspective, I think … it really puts all the pressure back on what you already put onto tape over the course of the fall,” Klatt said. “So there’s no amount of time to now make up ground, in particular, for guys who are maybe now injured to prove that they’re healthy. I think it puts them behind the eight ball.
“And just think about it from a numbers perspective, guys — 30 players were drafted last year that did not go to the NFL Scouting Combine. I would be shocked if we had anywhere near that and in main part due to the fact that teams are going to struggle getting medical information for some of these guys, if not all of these guys.”
Scouts, coaches and general managers still have a few weeks of evaluation until the NFL Draft. It should be interesting to see how teams utilize this time.