By Mark Gallagher
The NFL is the most successful sports league in America, but even it is affected by the coronavirus:
Although the NFL still plans to kick off the league year on March 18, most NFL scouts and coaches spend the month of March traveling the country to attend on-campus pro days, conduct one-on-one workouts and bring potential draft targets to team facilities (called “30-visits”, as each team has 30 private visits to use with prospects) for further evaluation.
But with several teams making the decision to suspend all team-related travel for 30 days, scouts and coaches are being told to go home and NFL prospect visits are being canceled. With well over 100 pro days still on the schedule, I’m told that most of those upcoming workouts will be postponed or canceled while others will be videoed and sent to NFL teams, along with relevant testing numbers.
Like most aspects of our lives, the scouting process has gone from routine to extremely fluid.
Without the opportunity to invite prospects to team facilities or travel for one-on-one workouts, this changes quite a bit for the status quo of scouting.
After an impressive combine performance, Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland had 17 pre-draft workouts lined up, including five “30-visits”. All have been canceled. With strong tape and workout numbers from Indianapolis, Cleveland isn’t in danger of falling on draft day, but it is a missed opportunity. Cleveland is the type of prospect who will ace the interview process with evaluators, specifically the coaches. The opportunity to have one-on-one time with NFL coaches could ultimately mean the difference between going in the first round or second round for Cleveland.
Each team uses their allotted 30 visits in different ways. Some teams will invite players with red flags to try to get a better read on them. Those visits help cross the player off the list or maybe boosts their standing in the eyes of the team. According to sources, several NFL teams have already reached out to prospects and their representation about using FaceTime or Skype to conduct these interviews.