The coronoavirus has affected the sports world in a way it hasn’t seen since the Spanish Flu 100 years ago. Baseball has been postponed while basketball might be canceled altogether.
As a diehard sports fan, it’s hard to find something to do with my time. I’ve found myself watching more film than usual on the college players who are supposed to be drafted next month.
The NFL has been surprisingly silent throughout the noise surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and has not canceled the draft which begins April 2 nor does it have any plans to cancel any of the season as of right now.
In the league’s defense, canceling games that aren’t until September is a little drastic but with the 2020 Olympic Games being postponed along with all other sports, a public gathering of fans from all over the country isn’t the best idea right now.
While we’ve yet to hear about any draft changes, Pro Days for players have been canceled, leaving real question marks for guys like LSU’s Joe Burrow who didn’t participate in the combine in February.
This is going to give scouts and general managers a blast from the past as they will have to rely on players’ films and how they’ve performed on the college field rather than look at a guy’s arm talent throwing from his knees, the size of his hand or any other ridiculous things scouts have players do these days.
The combine was created in 1984 so prior to that, teams brought in players and worked them out or watched what they had done throughout college on tape. The earlier rounds will still consist of the familiar names we know; however the later round picks are going to be real shots in the dark.
Normally if a team found interest in a player from a smaller school who wasn’t invited to the combine and he wasn’t on many teams’ radars, someone could bring him in, work him out and get a feel for his character but COVID-19 is throwing a wrench into the normal routine.
General managers along with older, experienced coaches like New England’s Bill Belichick are going to have a leg up in this upcoming draft. New, young scouts tend to lean heavily towards analytics when it comes to players in this era.
While completion percentage and third-down conversions are important for the evaluation of a quarterback, that doesn’t mean stats are the story.
The best college player I ever saw was Tim Tebow, whom most believe can’t throw a football — and to that I agree. Watching Tebow throw could be difficult at times but, outside of Joe Montana and Tom Brady, I’ve yet to see another quarterback with the competitive fire and ability to rally the troops and have them lay it all on the line for a singular cause.
Tebow didn’t test well at the combine and his stats in his one NFL season as a starter weren’t impressive but he job got done.
Josh McDaniels was Denver’s coach at the time and ditched Tebow because analytics told him to. McDaniels quickly went crawling back to New England, cup in hand by not trusting what his eyes showed him.
This 2020 draft is deep with talent littered with future All-Pros and Hall of Famers. Teams will have their fill of great players. It will be interesting to see the impact the coronavirus will have on job security immediately following the upcoming season.
If teams drafted bad players, will the scouts and other staff get to use the lack of evaluation as an excuse or will owners hold people accountable for not being able to spot talent in other ways?