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They’re almost certainly going to push back the NFL Draft

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NFL general managers appear to want to push the 2020 draft back from its scheduled April 23-25 time frame, and after hearing from UVA prospects Bryce Hall and Bryce Perkins yesterday, I can totally understand why.

A GM subcommittee is citing issues with being able to perform player physicals, gathering info from psychological testing and the cancellation of multiple scheduled pro days on campuses across the country in response to COVID-19.

On a Zoom teleconference with UVA beat writers and TV media on Tuesday, it became obvious right away that there’s no way NFL teams can proceed with the draft as scheduled.

Take the case of Hall first. The cornerback is a projected first-round pick on most draft boards, but the big question with Hall is that he’s still in recovery from a broken fibula and dislocated ankle suffered mid-season.

Hall told us yesterday that he’s only in Week 2 of what he’d consider a normal training schedule.

Assuming he gets back to his previous level of athleticism, he’s an easy first-rounder – a big (6’1”), physical (200 pounds) shutdown corner who can also provide run support.

But you can’t assume he’s going to get back to his previous level of athleticism if you’re an NFL front office.

You need to know, right?

Listening to Hall make his case yesterday, I felt for him, thinking that he was going to end up being shortchanged in this draft process, because if I’m a GM, I probably pass on him in the first round, due to the uncertainty with his recovery.

Get him in the second or third round, you’re not rolling the dice, and you probably end up with what they call a value pick, a first-round talent at a lower price salary cap-wise.

Which, good for the team there, right?

Actually, though, no. Because it’s not just Hall who you’d have questions about physically in this draft.

Tua Tagovailoa, top of the first round quarterback guy, is a huge question mark right now, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Talents like Tagovailoa and Hall represent huge investments by teams.

They don’t want to make them without as much background as they can.

The flip side is the case of Perkins, the record-setting quarterback, who was famously (in these parts) snubbed by the NFL Combine.

Because Perk, a projected Day 3 pick, didn’t get to showcase at the Combine, he was having to throw all of his eggs into two baskets – the pro days at Arizona State, his first college, and then at UVA.

Without those, all you have on Perkins is game tape, and the ability to FaceTime or Zoom with him to talk through football knowledge.

The Halls and Tagovailoas would do just fine in an April 23-25 draft. Tagovailoa, anyway, is going at the top of the first round either way, no matter what you don’t know about his hip. And at worst, Hall slips into the top of the second round, costing him some dollars up front, but maybe giving him more contract flexibility down the line.

Perkins could slide out of the draft entirely, putting him on the difficult track of having to land a spot as an undrafted free agent, into the headwind of an offseason without OTAs ahead of training camp.

But as I say that, it registers that Perkins isn’t the only Day 3 guy that teams want more information on.

The uncertainty surrounding the process makes it almost a given that you’re going to see the draft pushed back.

Which sucks for us fans, because we need something to argue about endlessly and nonsensically that feels important from the world of the old normal.

Story by Chris Graham