The Bengals’ original pre-draft itinerary had coach Zac Taylor and director of player personnel Duke Tobin in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Friday. Instead, Taylor spent the day in a spare room upstairs in his Cincinnati home, making phone calls and watching film.
All indications are the Bengals will select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall choice on April 23.
But the Bengals didn’t get to see Burrow workout as planned during LSU’s pro day. They didn’t get a private workout with him. They didn’t get to have him visit Cincinnati.
“The only thing you didn’t get a chance to see was a guy throw 40 throws in front of you,” Taylor told Geoff Hobson of the team website. “At the end of the day, what does that really give you in the grand scheme of things? Sometimes that’s a big factor if you take a guy in the fifth or sixth round. Something like that. We’ve had plenty of exposure to the guys that have put themselves in position to be the No. 1 pick. We feel very confident with whoever we decide to take.”
The Bengals, like every other team, are doing Zoom or FaceTime interviews instead of in-person visits. Teams may contact an unlimited number of incoming rookies up to three times per week, for up to one hour at a time, according to the NFL.
Phone calls, though, can’t replace the pro days for prospects who didn’t work out at the Combine or for players coming off injury. They also don’t give team doctors a chance to exam prospects.
“That’s hard to replace with a phone call,” Taylor said. “You look at our undrafted history here and our scouts have done a great job finding guys that can play for us. And the coaches started looking at players when we prepared for the Senior Bowl, so we’ve been looking at guys three weeks or a month longer than we normally would have. We really feel like we’ve got a chance to talk through those guys that didn’t have a pro day. The medical is always going to be a challenge. You’ve just got to be as thorough as you can.”