PITTSBURGH — The 2020 NFL Draft was unlike any other before it in recent memory because schools were unable to host pro days because of the pandemic.
That left teams relying solely on the information they had gathered during the season, at the all-star games and the NFL Scouting Combine from which to select players.
Fast forward one year and the draft will be even more of a crap shoot. With the nation still largely shut down because of the pandemic -- though that is certainly starting to change -- many schools did not play football in the fall. Those that did were limited to having scouts on campus only for game days. And because of concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, many players opted to not play football last season. Then, the NFL canceled the scouting combine in Indianapolis in February.
That left only pro days -- and limited ones, at that -- for teams to be able to see players in person in a non-game day setting.
“The pandemic has challenged us in so many ways,” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said at an in-person press conference, the team’s first in more than a year, Monday. “It was challenging to get to this point in the draft process, almost more than last year.”
Teams were limited to no more than three staff members per pro day and could only meet with prospects via Zoom calls.
But Colbert said he and head coach Mike Tomlin personally attended nine pro days together at schools that had the most prospects in order to get the most out of the experience. The Steelers also have spoken to around 100 prospects via Zoom calls.