With the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine canceled, pro days are even more pivotal in evaluating 2021 NFL Draft prospects. In the latest Draft Insiders show, Pro Football Network Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline provided an update on pro days and medicals for 2021 NFL Draft prospects.
What is the latest regarding NFL pro days?
Following the NFL Combine’s cancellation, attention immediately switched to pro days when it comes to evaluating NFL prospects. The lack of an NFL Combine has increased the importance for players to perform at their pro days. Additionally, it has also led to training sites setting up their own combine-like workout.
What is happening with the NFL Combine-like pro days organized by the EXOS training sites?
On February 11th, ESPN reported that the EXOS training facilities in Florida, Texas, and Arizona are set to hold combine-type workouts. These are scheduled to take place on February 26th and 27th, which is when the NFL Combine would have been held. Pauline shone some more light on whether NFL scouts will be in attendance and whether players are buying into these workouts.
“I have learned that NFL scouts are not going to be able to attend those workouts. They are considered private workouts. The NFL is not allowing their scouts to go and attend these workouts. I’m also told that a lot of the players who are on hand at these training facilities are actually not going to participate. So, while it is going to be a big talking point, and there is going to be a lot of coverage of it, there is not going to be a lot of guys who are going to participate. They are basically going to wait and hold off until they get their pro days underway later in March.”
What are NFL teams and scouts likely to prioritize out of these workouts?
One of the most important parts of the NFL Scouting Combine is the controlled environment that players are tested in.
These private NFL pro days do not have that same element of control as the NFL themselves does not manage them. Pauline provided information on which parts of these workouts will be considered most important by NFL teams and scouts.
“When I talk to people around the league, scouts and the teams are really not going to put a whole lot of stock into the testing numbers. Specifically, the 40-time, the 3-cone time, the shuttle time. They are very interested in the film of the position drills, the practice sessions. They are going to watch those because that is going to be much more limited. We talk about the 40-times and the vertical jumps at the (NFL) Combine, but the position drills are just as important. And now you are going to have limited film of the position drills, hopefully at the players’ pro days.”
On the show, Pauline mentioned how these workouts could be replicated across the country at other sites, especially in California.
What is the latest with the traditional college pro days?
Despite the combine-like events being hosted by EXOS, traditional pro days retain their importance in the eyes of the NFL. Pauline discussed just how important these pro days are to the NFL this week.
“I’m told that the NFL and the teams are still relying on school pro days to take place. That is where the crux of their information is going to come as far as measurements, the testing, and the position drills.”
Additionally, the restrictions on attendance have further complicated the process of pro days. However, Pauline discussed how the NFL is looking to combat the concerns regarding coaches’ and scouts’ attendance at pro days.
“I’m told that the NFL will allow a school to have as many pro days as they want. This is because of the limited amount of attendance that schools are basically going to allow. They may only allow 5-10 scouts or coaches in to view a pro day. The remedy as far as the NFL is concerned is to allow schools to have multiple pro days. Maybe you have offense one day and defense the next day. This way when you have your pro day with the offense all of the offensive coaches can come. Then when you have your pro day with the defense, all of the defensive coaches can come. Although that is what the NFL is allowing the school to do, whether the schools follow suit on that remains to be seen.”
Has there been any update on pro days for the Pac-12 schools?
In this week’s show, Pauline discussed the latest news regarding NFL pro days at the Pac-12 schools.
“I am still hearing that pro days for the Pac-12 schools on the West Coast are still iffy. I talked to somebody about that today, and it’s still kind of up in the air when it comes to Stanford, Washington, and many of those Pac-12 schools.”
The potential lack of NFL pro days in the Pac-12 could be a major concern for prospects who opted out. Pauline discussed these concerns on the show.
“Remember the basis for guys opting out was to prepare for the draft. So, if some of these guys, especially Pac-12 schools, Joe Tryon at Washington, who opted out and didn’t play in the 2020 season to prepare for the 2021 Draft, don’t have their day in the sun as far as workouts are concerned, it is really going to hurt them.”
What is the latest on medicals for the draft-eligible players that were NFL Combine invitees?
As Pauline has previously reported, the medicals are one of the biggest parts of the pre-NFL Draft process. However, with the NFL Scouting Combine not taking place, the medicals for these draft-eligible players remain somewhat unknown in terms of details. This is not something that can be covered during NFL pro days. In the show on February 18th, Pauline revealed the latest that he is hearing regarding medicals for draft prospects.
“Teams are very concerned that they may not get the medical information that they want or need on specific players. That said, I’m told that right now the dates of April 8th, April 9th, and April 10th, are being bandied about as the dates these medicals will take place. These medicals are going to be regionalized. The plan is to get every player who was invited to the (NFL) Combine to one of these regionalized medicals where they can do a combine-like medical exam.”
Medicals are a vital part of the pre-draft process
Pauline also discussed just how important NFL Combine medicals are for teams and prospects. These medicals are a big reason why the NFL Combine is so important even though teams hold individual pro days.
“When it comes to the (NFL) Combine… the medicals are the most important. The medical can make a player who had a great workout drop faster than an anvil thrown out of a window.”
Pauline and host Matthew Cannata discussed some notable names who have seen their draft stock fall due to medical issues. Pauline discussed Eric Heitmann’s story, who dropped from a second-round prospect to a seventh-round selection due to medical concerns. Other names they mentioned included both Sione Po’uha and Montez Sweat.
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