The 2020 NFL Draft might favor players who were able to able to attend the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine, because of pro days and in-person meetings being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But some agents believe teams have all the information they need to proceed on schedule.
Leigh Steinberg and Chris Cabott, from Steinberg Sports and Entertainment, spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area about how their preparation for the draft has been consistent to what they’ve done in the past. Their agency represents Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, among other draft hopefuls.
Both longtime agents believe players who attended an All-Star event or the combine have an advantage, but that always has been the case. As in every draft, there will be players who exceed expectations and those who don’t live up to them.
“When I first started in the industry in 1975 with Steve Bartkowski, there were no pro days, no team meetings, no combine,” Steinberg said. “If you look at statistics from players then, to those selected in 2005, the players in 1975 were more successful and productive.
“Teams obviously believe that the more information they have, the better, but at some point, it’s enough. I believe they have enough information to make educated and prudent choices.”
Brett Tessler, who represents 49ers running back Raheem Mostert, believes players who weren’t able to attend or weren’t invited to the combine are at a disadvantage across the board. An off-the-radar player won’t have the chance to catch a scout or coach’s eye at a local pro day and jump up a team’s draft board.
“For most non-combine guys, it's going to put everybody at an equal disadvantage,” Tessler told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Teams will rely more on the spring testing numbers that they got prior to this season.
“But, the biggest disadvantage for non-combine guys trying to get drafted is the lack of being brought in for pre-draft visits, where the medical staffs can do all the background work on these guys that they need to do.”
Just like everyone across the nation, players, agents and teams are taking advantage of video conferencing technology such as Zoom and Skype for their 30 one-on-one pre-draft visits. This actually might be the one advantage for players who have grown up with video calls as the norm.
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As in the past, teams still have the ability to ask players schematic questions using a virtual chalkboard, and go over game film during video conferencing sessions. Cabott also believes one resource could be more important than in previous pre-draft research.
“Trainers,” Cabott said. “Those guys who were working with players, getting them ready for pro days will have information that will be important for teams. They can give projections, send videos of testing and have insight to a player’s work ethic.”