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Cal Football: Cancellation of Scouting Combine Alters Pre-Draft Routine for NFL Hopefuls

Schools' Pro Day Events Will Take on Added Importance for Most Prospects

The NFL scouting combine, one of the major events for prospective professional players on the pre-draft calendar is the latest casualty of the COVID-19 era.

The combine will not happen this year, at least not in the form it has taken since 1987 when NFL team officials, scouts, coaches and medical personnel gathered in Indianapolis for a week-long evaluation of prospective draftees.

The NFL informed teams via memo on Monday that Indianapolis will not serve as host to the event this year. Instead, the entire process will take place remotely.

The change will have an impact on former Cal players such as cornerback Camryn Bynum, offensive tackle Jake Curhan and defensive end Zeandae Johnson, who hoped to be among the 320 players who receive invitations to the combine and then put their best foot forward in drills, interviews and physical examinations.

Bynum has spent the past several weeks in Texas, training specifically in preparation for the NFL combine.

*** In the video above, Cal coach Justin Wilcox discusses the Bears' defense after the season.

The elimination of the traditional combine could be especially significant to Cal’s players, who had just four games in a shortened season this fall to show scouts what they can do. And while Bynum — a first-team All-Pac-12 selection — appears in most mock drafts, none of Cal’s other players are considered locks to be taken in the draft.

Cal has not announced plans for its annual Pro Day event, but typically it's held the third weekend in March. 

NFL memo on scouting combine

The NFL said it will release specific plans next week for how its personnel evaluate players, but the bottom line is that each school’s Pro Day event becomes more significant.

In the past, elite players had the chance to participate in both the combine and their Pro Day. Players who maybe weren’t physically at their best, could target one event or the other to run the 40-yard dash or conduct other drills that evaluators use to rank prospects.

The NFL has not determined yet when Pro Day workouts will be attended in person by team personnel or will be conducted remotely, in which case teams may have to rely on videotape produced by the schools.

The league intends to work with schools to ensure uniformity of the workouts.

A certain number of prospects will be allowed to have in-person physical examinations at one or more designated locations some time in April, according to the NFL memo. The NFL is still working on how examinations of other players will take place.

Teams are allowed 15 minutes to conduct interviews with players at the combine, but those interactions will now take place via Zoom calls.

Likewise, the usual media interviews conducted with players at the combine will now be held remotely.


Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo