Tua Tagovailoa's Agent Thinks NFL Teams will Draft Better without Pro Days
Jason B. Hirschhorn
Of the myriad sports activities that have fallen by the wayside during the coronavirus crisis, pro days and other events held in anticipation of the 2020 NFL Draft scheduled for mid-to-late March did not happen. In the process, numerous draft hopefuls did not receive the opportunity to work out in front of scouts, executives, and coaches. For those that did not test at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, the lack of a pro day complicates their draft outlook.
However, not everyone believes that prospects without combine or pro day testing will find themselves too disadvantaged. Sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who has worked in the industry since the 1970s, thinks NFL teams have enough data with which to make sound decisions.
"When I first started in the industry in 1975 with Steve Bartkowski, there were no pro days, no team meetings, no combine," Steinberg told NBC Sports Bay Area. "If you look at statistics from players then, to those selected in 2005, the players in 1975 were more successful and productive."
Steinberg has a reason to argue this. His biggest client in the upcoming draft, former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, will not have a workout for scouts due to the travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus. Though Tagovailoa would not have held a traditional pro-day workout due to health constraints, he had planned to throw for talent evaluators in April.
As for Steinberg's comparison of the evaluation process before and after the rise of the combine and pro days, the 1975 draft produced four Hall of Famers: defensive tackle Randy White, running back Walter Payton, linebacker Robert Brazile, and defensive end Fred Dean. The first three came off the board within the top six selections, with the final one going at No. 33 overall. All but Dean would have landed in the first round had the draft included as many first-round picks as it does today.
It remains too early to know exactly how many Hall of Famers the 2005 draft will produce. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has effectively stamped his ticket already, and former Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos pass rusher DeMarcus Ware likely has as well. Running back Frank Gore continues to make his case and Logan Mankins has a chance, albeit small, to make the cut given his accolades.
Regardless of how Steinberg's comparison ultimately plays out, he remains confident that teams have what they need without pro days.
"Teams obviously believe that the more information they have the better, but at some point, it's enough," Steinberg said. "I believe they have enough information to make educated and prudent choices."
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH