The landscape of the entire NFL pre-draft process has done a complete makeover amid the Covid-19 pandemic that is affecting the entire world at this moment. This is much in the same vein as how the clubs are conducting offseason workouts.
Last month, the NFL placed strict regulations on teams in how they conduct pre-draft workouts and visits. Simply put, they can’t. The Jaguars and all other 31 teams around the league now have to resort to unconventional methods to meet with draft prospects.
Speaking with the local media earlier this week, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone laid out the process he has been working through over the past couple of weeks, saying it sort of brings him back to his days as a collegiate head coach.
In college, the recruitment period is different, there isn’t a top-30 workout session, much like the current standing in the National Football League right now.
“There’s a lot of film on these guys,” Marrone said of scouting the 2020 NFL Draft prospects. “Quality film. A lot of workouts. A lot of these players posting workouts where you can get a chance to see that. If you’re a person that always wants to get your hands on a guy and be able to work them out all day and run through a bunch of drills and feel comfortable and pick that player because of that, yes, then that will be a challenge.”
One of the important points of the NFL mandating a league-wide shutdown is making sure all teams are on a level playing field.
One of the more unorthodox aspects of the situation is the fact that teams are unable to perform medicals, specifically medial rechecks, on prospects. This, Marrone says, has cause the league to do something it would rarely ever do which is to share information among each other. “...normally clubs are doing that on their own. I think it’s still a work in progress as far as what we can do better for the information pipeline for everyone,” Marrone added.
In lieu of official visits with prospects, the Jaguars are conducting face time and phone interviews. According to an NFL memo sent to all 32 teams, clubs are permitted to conduct phone or teleconference interviews with only three prospects per week, and the calls or teleconferences must not eclipse an hour.
Teams also must be aware enough to not interfere with the prospects school time, which many are conducting off-campus using distance learning.
“It’s funny. We’re actually logging all of our calls for our players because I don’t think the league wants us to get crazy,” Marrone said. “It reminds me a lot of college when everyone had a call log and everyone had to write down the time, write down the time that ended. Our coaches are doing a really good job of that. I think it’s something that we are going to get quite a bit from.”
The Jaguars, and all NFL teams will need to continue making adjustments as to get the most information they can on prospects that could very well make or break their job security. The unusual process is only the beginning of what will almost definitely be a stressful, and confusing time in the world of sports, along with all aspects of life across the globe.