The NFL has fundamentally changed the off-season schedule, which will have a direct impact on how the 32 teams prepare for the 2021 NFL draft. The league announced Monday that the annual NFL Scouting Combine would not take place in Indianapolis, Indiana. The league will not be conducting personal workouts or interviews due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league sent a memo to the 32 franchises on Monday informing them of the change. Along with the news about the canceled Scouting Combine, the teams also learned that they would have to conduct virtual interviews and psychological examinations. There will be limited in-person medical exams, expected to take place in April, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. College students can continue to train for the NFL teams during their respective Pro Days on campuses across the country.
Here is the full memo on changes to the Scouting Combine 2021: pic.twitter.com/e1KNcuaUTn
– Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 18, 2021
The NFL Scouting Combine is traditionally one of the most important dates on the offseason calendar. This event gives teams the chance to watch the best college prospects do the 40 yard dash and participate in a variety of exercises. The teams also have personal time with top players and can ask them a variety of questions about football, life and other topics. The Scouting Combine’s physical data occasionally reveals previously hidden medical problems.
If the marquee is canceled, the league will have to take a different approach to prepare for the upcoming draft. Pro Days become even more important when you consider that they give the scouts and coaches an accurate and personal look at the future stars of the NFL. Similarly, teams need to find the best approach to the virtual interviews to determine which players are best suited to the locker room dynamics.
The coronavirus pandemic disrupted several off-season activities in 2020 but didn’t cause any issues with last year’s Scouting Combine. The teams came to Indianapolis in February and observed the exercises in person. Less than a month later, however, the NFL had to make changes to the schedule. The 2020 NFL Draft did not take place in Las Vegas as planned. Instead, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced all the picks practically from his basement.
The league planned to travel to Las Vegas in 2021 to make up for the canceled event, but the upcoming NFL draft is now in question with Monday’s announcement. There is a scenario where the league has to hold its second selection event in a row with no fans or teams present.