Drew Rosenhaus’ established March and April routine includes traveling to college pro days, not shopping online to construct a makeshift weight room.
He is used to prepping NFL draft prospects for in-person interactions, not sending reminders to find a quiet room at home, put away electronic distractions and dress to impress on a one-hour WebEx call.
But these are just some of the necessary steps taken by the 32-year powerful NFL agent, while grounded at home, to fill the gaps after most pro days, facility visits and private workouts were canceled under coronavirus social-distancing restrictions.
“We’re taping a virtual pro day from A to Z for our clients and distributing it to all the teams,” Rosenhaus said. “We’ve done everything from helping our clients get home gym equipment to connecting them with Peloton, and arranging for them to do social distancing, but find fields where they can go workouts in.”
When the 2020 NFL Draft begins Thursday, decision-makers will have fewer testing numbers, medical evaluations and character insights than usual at their disposal.
What will this year’s vastly different preparation ultimately mean on draft day? Which teams are best-positioned? Which prospects might be most impacted? The Post spoke to experienced agents, scouts and executives who concluded:
Seventeen of 32 head coaches have been in their current jobs less than three years. Four general managers (two of whom are coaches) will be running a draft for the first time. Only five coaches and eight GMs have held the same job since 2010.
“The staffs who have been together a long time — so the general manager knows everyone’s voice in the room — will benefit,” Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy said. “Some guys are high-graders. Some guys are low-graders. The GMs who value what their scouts say is big. That sounds pretty simple, but that’s not the case in most places.”
Area scouts will be difference-makers
A GM with time-tested faith in one area scout over others could default to selecting multiple players from the same region of the country, admits former Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik of SiriusXM NFL Radio.
“It’s the teams that have area scouts with the most knowledge of their players,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “It’s not that you are going to miss out on 40 [yard dash] times. You have to rely on what area scouts were able to gather in the fall to build the profile of what these guys are like as people, workers, football intellect.”
Caution with injury concerns
Limited team-player interactions means limited medical information. Former can’t-miss quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is the most notable candidate to slide because of it. There are many more in the middle rounds.
The scouting combine is the most recent checkup for 300-plus players. Medical records on those snubbed by the combine are unavailable in some cases. The annual April medical rechecks were canceled.
“We are going to see a record-low number of non-combine guys picked,” Jeremiah said. “You can’t take a player in the third or fourth round and have him show with a degenerative knee you didn’t know anything about.”
Seniors over underclassmen
Coaches and GMs who read body-language cues might default to notes from a 1-on-1 in-person interview at one of the senior All-Star showcases rather than from a floating head breaking down film via FaceTime. Especially when looking to get to the bottom of character red flags.
“That group of underclassmen who would’ve been fourth-, fifth- or sixth-rounders, we are going to see a higher percentage go undrafted,” Dominik said. “There will be a [bigger] group from the Senior Bowl drafted because you have so much confidence in everything you need to know.”
A GM will be connected to his coaches, scouts and the league virtually during the draft.
One NFL GM spent more than $10,000 to upgrade his home internet, per NFL Network. Gil Brandt, a Hall of Fame executive for the Cowboys, says there is an advantage for “teams with the best IT people.”
“I think teams will play it closer to the vest,” Brandt said. “You are going to have a lot less coaches pounding on a table and saying, ‘Take this guy!’ There is a natural difference between five guys connected as opposed to five guys talking in a room.”
Broader draft range at deep positions
Pro day testing numbers in the National Football Scouting database shared by teams help to create a consensus opinion most years. Without those, game-tape is being worn threadbare — a risk in its own right.
If this happened last year, Brandt says top rookie Josh Jacobs would have tumbled past pick No. 24 because he was in a split backfield at Alabama.
“Once everybody has times and gets a feel for these players as people,” Jeremiah said, “while they might not be in the exact same order, they are all in those same buckets of 4-5 guys. This year, it’s going to be more subjective.”
Agents are working overtime to get clients a fair shake.
“We’ve really had to scramble to find what works best for each individual,” Rosenhaus said. “I’m trying to replace all of that with the communication with the teams. It’s all virtual. It really is 2020.”
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