Can even the respected LA Rams scouting department manage to find players in the 2021 NFL Draft if there is no college football this year?
The LA Rams, and all 32 NFL teams, depend upon a fresh class of draftable NFL rookies each year to replenish the ranks. That class is made up of players who develop, for the most part, within the NCAA football programs across the nation. Of course, identifying those mainstream players is easy. You cannot possibly Google NFL Draft without a myriad of mock drafts, draft profiles, and NFL team needs.
Right now, players are opting out of the 2020 college football season. While that will likely extend their NCAA eligibility, There are many who will bypass another year of college football and instead opt to take their chances in the 2021 NFL Draft. The biggest challenge to that is: how will NFL teams evaluate their talents?
And there’s the rub. How WILL teams evaluate the talent of the 2021 NFL Draft Class? By improvising.
Welcome to the Improv
Innovation and improvisation are the survival skills necessary for 2020. But can the LA Rams improvise a way to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft if there is only a partial NCAA football season, or if players opt-out? Well, if anyone can, the Rams scouting department can.
It’s going to be a very interesting challenge for GMs… https://t.co/sY1mifEIJS
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 10, 2020
The fact is that many players who project to enter the 2021 draft already have a draft profile developed. That profile is merely enhanced or tweaked by the current college season. But it’s the current year that is so heavily weighted, as positive trends tend to be driven from the most recent. The latest data is the most trusted data set for projections.
You can bet that the LA Rams are already working on a “Plan B” to address the challenge. Clearly NFL teams with deeper connections to college programs will have an edge, and the Rams have remained fairly active at all coaching circles.
The NFL drafted players long before the sophisticated means of tracking and analyzing players were available. Will it go back to handwritten notes and letters to the home office? No. But the new way of evaluating talent may be a one-and-done, or it may be the start of an entirely new chapter of NFL scouting. In any case, it’s all we’ve got.