The normal pre-draft activities that take place every year are just one of the many events that have been disrupted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. On-campus pro days and pre-draft visits have been canceled, but as of now, the NFL Draft is still scheduled to take place on April 23-25 in Las Vegas. The cancelation of both has the potential to help a few Notre Dame prospects based on what some NFL insiders are reporting.
Jim Nagy, an ESPN NFL Draft expert and the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, tweeted the following on Saturday:
Spoke to NFL front office guys about how cancellation of pro-days and visits will affect NFL draft:
1) Less small-schoolers drafted without test numbers
2) Participants in BOTH all-star & Combine will get a boost because all boxes ☑️
3) Players w/ makeup flags will likely fall
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 14, 2020
If you look at Nagy’s list, all of those items could point to a higher draft selection for some Notre Dame players.
- Notre Dame is not a small school
- Many of the Fighting Irish players not participated in the all-star games and combine, but excelled
- None of the Notre Dame players in the draft have any off-field red flags
Looking back at the Senior Bowl, all four Notre Dame players that participated (Chase Claypool, Jalen Elliott, Alohi Gilman, and Troy Pride) improved their draft stock in Mobile. One Golden Domer specifically made himself money at the Senior Bowl. Troy Pride Jr tore it up in practices throughout the week and then capped his week off with an interception in the game that had his stock soaring.
At the NFL Combine, Chase Claypool turned in a historic performance for a wide receiver by becoming the first receiver since Calvin Johnson to run a sub 4.45 in the 40 at over 230 lbs. After the combine, some mock drafts started projecting Claypool into the late 1st round after previously having him outside of the top 100 overall prospects.
Claypool wasn’t the only Notre Dame player to perform well at the Combine either. Notre Dame received the most “medals” of any school, according to the official NFL Research Twitter account.
2020 Combine Medal Count recap
Medals were awarded to the first, second, and third place finishers in each drill within each position group@NDFootball had the most total medals (7)@UMichFootball @MizzouFootball & @HawkeyeFootball tied for the most Gold medals (3) pic.twitter.com/LSWrsPg5w7
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) March 2, 2020
Cole Kmet, Khalid Kareem, and Julian Okwara did not participate in all-star games, but they all did pretty well at the Combine – Kmet specifically. He ran the 4th fastest 40 for tight ends, had the 2nd best broad jump, and recorded the highest vertical jump among his position as well. Okwara was limited in what he could do as he recovers from injury.
It is worth keeping an eye on where Troy Pride Jr projects now. While he was stellar at the Senior Bowl and had his stock soaring, Pride, like many other corners in Indianapolis, ran much slower than expected. Many expected Pride to run a sub 4.3, but he turned in a 4.45. A respectable showing, but slower than he expected. Notre Dame’s Pro Day would have allowed Pride an opportunity to make up for that slower than expected time.
While all of this might be good for Notre Dame players, if it holds, it will be very unfortunate for small school prospects who needed visits and pro-days to cement their positions. It could also make the undrafted free agent period after the draft even more competitive this year.