The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on all sports, the NFL included. Games, and entire seasons, were cancelled or postponed. Earlier this week, it was announced that the NFL Combine would be ‘reimagined’ in 2021. In-person activities, such as the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, and positional drills, will now be conducted at each school’s pro day, or at local combines.
The NFL informed clubs tonight they are prohibited from timing, testing, interviewing in-person or giving medical exams to any draft-eligible player at any location except a school’s pro day or all-star game this year because of ongoing concerns surrounding COVID-19, per source.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 23, 2021
Positional drills, as well as athletic testing, will now be conducted locally. Generally, testing numbers at pro days are a bit exaggerated. It still remains unclear how the NFL will regulate consistent testing, but one thing is clear, this is the year for teams to trade back and build NFL Draft capital.
Trust The Tape
This year, more than any other, it’s time for teams to trust the tape when it comes to player evaluations. Organizations will still be allowed to conduct interviews and psychological testing, as they typically could at the NFL Combine, but it must be done virtually in 2021.
With several teams in the quarterback market, and a handful of cornerbacks slated to come off the board early in round one, relying on tape, rather than athletic testing, will be key.
The Year To Trade Back And Build Load Up On Draft Picks
With a virtual NFL Combine, 2021 might be the year for teams to trade back and build draft capital. Several prospects, such as Penei Sewell and Micah Parsons, have limited, but productive, college film.
If there are teams that aren’t sold on the game film, and wanted to put a prospective candidate through the paces, they might be unable to do so. Trading out of their draft selection, and obtaining additional draft picks, would be crucial for a team’s rebuild process.