East-West Shrine Bowl Canceled – What that means for 2021 NFL Draft Prospects

Yesterday the East-West Shrine Bowl canceled their 2021 all-star game, because of Covid-19 concerns. 

The annual college football all-star game, the oldest event of its kind which goes back to 1925 was scheduled to be played on January 23 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  From last season’s game there is 98 players on NFL rosters who played on it. 

Because of this there will be one less post-season all-star game for prospects to go to and there is rumors that the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will not be played either.  The Senior Bowl has said they are still planning on going forward with their event, but it will be something to watch.

All-Star games are especially important for prospects in many ways – Here are some:

  1. Small School or Non-Power 5 prospects get to show NFL scouts that they can play against the best level of competition.
  2. NFL Scouts get to see the prospects go one-on-one and can use this as particularly good evaluation tool.  
  3. NFL Scouts get true measurements (Height/Weight) on a prospect if were allowed to get the spring before Senior season.
  4. NFL Scouts get more time to interview and interact with prospect to help with the overall evaluation.

Countless amount of prospect has raised their draft stock at all-star games or even got on NFL scouts’ radar at an All-Star event, so it is an especially important part of the process that this year could not be happing. 

This could be another factor why some prospects use the NCAA extra year of eligibility and plan to be in the 2022 NFL Draft not the 2021 NFL Draft cycle. 

How Covid-19 is Impacting the 2021 NFL Draft Post-Season Process

Because of Covid-19 the NCAA has given each player this year another year of eligibility, which on the surface sounds great but it does come with some complications with the NFL Draft process, unless the NFL changes it rules. 

  1. All players will have college eligibility left, because of that any player that wants to be included in the 2021 NFL Draft must declare for the draft by the declare deadline (which normally is around January 15th)
  2. Because all players will have to declare and NFL scouts can’t interact with “underclassmen” (or players with NCAA eligibility left) until after the declare date.  All-Star games like the College Gridiron Showcase, Tropical Bowl, East-West Shrine Game, and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all normally being before the declare date so no scouts would be able to attended until after the declare date unless the NFL changes their rules for this year.
  3. NFL Combine Invites normally sent out to Senior prospects after the teams bowl game will not be sent out because the NFL Combine won’t for sure know who is not going back to school so they will have to wait until after the declare date to send out invites.
  4. What will be the Covid-19 protocols with the All-Star games, NFL Combine, and Pro Days.  Because of possible protocol issues these events could be different. 
  5. With the FCS Spring Schedule being released now anyone that would play in that full schedule and not declare for the draft they would not be eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft unless the NFL changes the rules.
  6. Now all college players will have to decide to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft or play in the 2021 College Football season when everyone hopes we are back to normal and be in the 2022 NFL Draft.  

How COVID-19 is affecting the 2021 NFL Draft

One thing that goes on in the spring that NFL fans don’t pay to much attention to is NFL scouts from the two NFL scouting services, BLETSO and National Football Scouting go on college campuses and doing what is called “junior days”.   “Junior Days” are where scouts will get the players height, weight, some schools will allow guys to run 40s and the scouts will grade the film of the players that will be Seniors in the fall and give them what is called a “Spring Grade”.   

Then around Memorial Day the two Scouting Services and all the NFL scouts that subscribed to either of those services will get together for a long weekend normally in Florida and read the spring reports and go over the “Spring Grades”.  These grades become the road map of the scouts in the summer and fall to evaluate the next class of NFL prospects for the following spring draft. 

Because of what is going on with the COVID-19 pandemic, many “juniors days” won’t happen so scouts won’t have information on those prospects leaving information need to make up “spring grades” unavailable. 

Talking with multiple scouts the “Spring Grades” for the 2021 NFL Draft will either just not happen or be delayed and it will affect how the NFL teams do their business this upcoming fall and leading into next years NFL Draft.  The reason why “Spring Grades” play such a big role is because of the two scouting services that the NFL uses, National Football Scouting (NFS) is the company that actually runs the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.  They take their “spring grades” as the starting point for the invites to the NFL Combine that following January. 

Even though “spring grades” are not made public and are suppose to remain proprietary the grades get out and agents, trainers, financial advisors, all-star games all try to get their hands on them to be able to make best decision on who to go after. 

Yes the COVID-19 pandemic is going to effect the 2020 NFL Draft with Pro Days, Top-30 Visits and work-outs canceled but is already effecting the 2021 Draft as well.

True, there is much bigger problems with the COVID-19 pandemic but just something else that it is impacting.