- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2020

University of Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall recently talked to an NFL coach about his future in the pros — over FaceTime, the video call app. He recounted how the coach had Hall watch game film of himself during the call, basically showing a screen on a screen, making it rather blurry.

It’s not ideal, but it’s where the league and its draft prospects find themselves one month away from the NFL draft April 23-25. With the global coronavirus pandemic shutting down unnecessary business travel not just in sports, but many other industries, both sides of the scouting process are adapting to an altered environment with no face-to-face meetings allowed.

Virginia football’s pro day was scheduled for April 8. But it was canceled as Virginia and most major universities in the country called off or suspended spring sports activities, including spring football practices.

Quarterback Bryce Perkins wasn’t invited to the scouting combine, a few weeks before the pandemic took hold in the U.S., so he was looking forward to working out for teams at both Virginia’s and Arizona State’s pro days.

“It was going to be super important,” Perkins said. “Anytime I could get a chance to get multiple eyes on me at two different settings, one at UVA and one at ASU, it was going to be huge.”

Instead, Perkins is looking for other ways to make sure coaches and scouts see his latest work. Recently when he was in his hometown of Chandler, Arizona, Perkins had someone film him working out at his high school alma mater’s field.

“Definitely made a point for me to show a lot of movement in that video,” said Perkins, a dual-threat quarterback who led the Cavaliers in both passing and rushing yards and was named second-team All-ACC.

Many mock drafts project Perkins to be selected in the seventh round or possibly go undrafted, while Hall, whose 2019 season was cut short by a bad leg injury, could be a second- or third-round pick.

Those are the types of players who benefit most from pro days and individual visits with teams. The Joe Burrows and Chase Youngs at the top of this year’s draft class have shown all they need to show, but the pre-draft process can be make-or-break for mid-round prospects or quarterbacks like Perkins who might not be on many teams’ radar.

But on March 13, the NFL prohibited its teams from traveling to meet draft prospects or inviting them to their own facilities. That means no “top 30 visits” for prospects and teams to get acquainted.

“It would have been nice to be able to show them something, but at the same time I’m still confident in what they know and what they’re looking for in me,” Hall said.

During a game in October, Hall had to be carted off the field after a serious leg injury; he revealed Tuesday that he broke his fibula, dislocated his ankle and tore the Deltoid ligament in his ankle.

Hall considers it a silver lining of the pandemic situation that he finds himself with more time, which he said he’s using to “invest in myself mentally.” He likes to watch motivational clips of Steve Harvey online.

Hall also spoke about keeping everything in perspective, staying positive and remembering to stay in touch with his family while he stays in Pensacola, Florida, to train.

“For the most part, people are in good spirits and people are accommodating the necessity to this whole thing,” Perkins added. “Just for this thing to kind of happen in a split second and for people to adjust, even if they may not like it, it’s been amazing.”

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