Considering the circumstances, we should probably be counting ourselves as grateful, even lucky, that there is a Senior Bowl event taking place right now, because there are very realistic circumstances in which it doesn’t. After all, there basically is not going to be an NFL Scouting Combine this year, which is a pretty big deal.
And you think the players don’t know what that means? The Combine has been the single biggest draft event short of the draft for many years at this point, establishing players as rising or falling or confirming their positions. It’s become the gold standard for metrics of prospects, the central hub at which all teams gather to evaluate the top prospects coming out of college every year.
Short of that, these players know that every other phase of the process is suddenly much more important, including these events like the Senior Bowl, something that guys like Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book, one of the three players at the position down, there, discussed yesterday at practice.
“It’s a weird year. Every day you’re just kind of waiting for some news, like something being canceled, or not”, he admitted yesterday. “As for the Senior Bowl, I’m really happy they could get this going. I talked to Jim Nagy and thanked him that we could get this thing rolling”.
“The next thing is pro day — no combine, no visits — that just makes every little thing more important”, he added. “This is more important, the pro day is more important, and it’s about taking every rep one at a time and going out and competing”.
As with last year, there will be no prospects visiting teams at their facilities this year, but they can meet with players virtually. What will be different from the last cycle is that they will have the opportunity to get in Pro Days, which will be as important as they have ever been before without the Combine.
And there will be at least some efforts made to attempt to standardize the procedures around the country about how players are tested on each campus, in the hopes of making it easier to compare and contrast performances. Obviously they will inevitably all short, but any approach of uniformity is better than none at all.
One possible side effect of this that I have been pondering lately is the chance that the absence of the Combine will be better for non-Combine invitees. While it sounds glaringly obvious when phrased that way, what I mean by this is that I think such players will receive more attention than they might normally when they are at their Pro Days competing with all the rest, since the focus won’t be on Combine performances.