This will be a draft unlike any other. You could say that basically every year and, for the most part, you would be right. Draft classes are like snowflakes or DNA; in their details, each is unique in its own way.
But unfortunately, the 2020 NFL Draft will be remembered for other reasons. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the draft process, as we are familiar with it, has been compromised. With most of the country going into quarantine shortly after the NFL Scouting Combine in early March, NFL teams have been left sitting on their hands. March is often the time of the draft process that yields the least amount of information to the public and is a crucial part of the draft calendar. Teams conduct their top-30 visits with prospects as well as travel across the country to various pro days. This year, much of the information gathered during that time went unconfirmed.
NFL front office members have voiced their displeasure in the draft processes continuing to go as scheduled. Some suggested the date be pushed back, citing the fact that they have not been able to thoroughly build their draft boards.
What about the prospect themselves?
The most encompassing part of the draft calendar is the pro days and top-30 visits.
Some prospects often wait specifically for pro day testing, either passing on or not getting invited to the combine. After facilities were closed before most players could get their official testing numbers, some prospects have taken measures into their own hands with virtual pro days.
The first top prospect that did this was LSU safety Grant Delpit.
Delpit didn't participate in the 40-yard dash at the combine and opted to wait for his pro day. In his virtual pro day tape, Delpit ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash.
But he wasn't the only one.
Mississippi State’s Cameron Dantzler also participated in a virtual pro day. Dantzler wasn’t happy with his combine performance and tried to improve his numbers, specifically his 40-yard dash. At the combine, the 6-foot-2, 188-pound cornerback ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash; it was in the seventh percentile for corners. At his recent virtual pro day, he clocked 4.38 seconds.
But it wasn't just about the athletic testing. One of the most highly anticipated pro days on would have been Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. He hosted a virtual pro day as well.
What do we make of these videos? It's easy to say that these virtual pro days won't mean much to these NFL teams, but I don't think that's totally true.
There maybe one team on the fence about Dantzler and more tape could persuade them. Perhaps that's enough to get him drafted a little sooner. If that's the case, it was worth it. Small seeds of faith could also have been planted by Delpit and Tagovailoa.
All in all, these virtual pro days probably won't change much. We take structured pro days results with a grain of salt anyway. But from the prospect's point of view, trying something is better than doing nothing. These NFL front office members get hung up on strange details. You never know what could be the tipping point.
Maybe these videos won't change the minds of many decision-makers, but maybe the will. They at least put the ball back in the NFL teams' courts and that's better than nothing.