Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL has been forced to alter a lot of things since March of last year. While the league was able to get the 2020 Scouting Combine conducted last February, there won’t be a full one this offseason and thus teams will be forced to rely mainly on pro days. With all the pre-draft process challenges presented to NFL teams this year, Steelers team president Art Rooney II thinks it will be harder for talent evaluators this year than last year because of there not being a combine.
“It’s not like last year in the sense that we had the Combine last year,” Rooney told Bob Labriola of Steelers.com about 2020. “That really is a key piece of the puzzle in terms of putting the evaluations together, and then we had some Pro Days. I’m a little more concerned about this year than I was about last year. Last year everybody was talking about the draft itself and doing that virtually, which was a challenge, but really the important part of the draft is the preparation.
Back in January, the NFL released a memo regarding how the offseason pre-draft process would work without having a traditional combine in Indianapolis. The league said it would work with the individual schools to achieve consistency in the on-the-field drills and testing that takes place with each NFL team being granted access to videos of the workouts at the pro days. Schools will also be asked to conduct virtual media availabilities with combine invitees to help “promote” the prospects and the 2021 NFL Draft.
In addition, the NFL has made it known that they are currently working alongside club physicians and trainers to develop a way in which to obtain “comprehensive medical information on each of the invited prospects.” In-person testing will be available for “a certain number of prospects” at designated locations, likely in early April, the league has stated.
Each club, according to NFL memos, will be permitted to send one physician and one athletic trainer to conduct these in-person exams, which will likely be scheduled over a two or three-day period.
“This year is going to be a much bigger challenge in getting the information you’d like to have, being without a Combine, being with a limited number of Pro Days and not even sure all of the schools are going to have Pro Days, plus dealing with players who opted out of the 2020 (college) season,” Rooney said. There are many more challenges in preparing for this daft than there were last year.”
Like last year, the Steelers are likely to go heavy on seniors in this year’s draft. Senior Bowl participants stand the best chance to be picked by the steelers this year and especially early.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said a few weeks ago that he and head coach Mike Tomlin might not make it to as many pro days as they would normally like to attend and that the ones they do attend might be at larger schools where multiple draftable prospects are on featured.