The 2020 college football season was unusual, with COVID-19 canceling many games, teams playing shorter seasons, players having less practice time, players opting out, and some small programs canceling their seasons altogether. For Patriots coach Bill Belichick, that has resulted in an unusual pre-draft process.
“The evaluation is definitely different,” Belichick said. “No question. We’ve hd a lot of conversations about it.”
Belichick said the 2019 season was more like a normal college football season and therefore arguably better for evaluating players, although he also noted that many players showed improvement in 2020 and he wouldn’t want to overlook that.
“In some respects the ’19 film is probably better, more of an apples-to-apples comparison of where players were,” Belichick said. “But at the same time we all know players get better with another year of experience, so there were a lot of players who improved from ’19 to ’20, as they would normally do, and there were a lot of circumstances surrounding the ’20 season. So that made the evaluation a little bit different, and you just have to try to figure out what you think a player can do for your team, what his role will be and what the rate of development, or what the process will be when you get him on your team. There’s a little less information than we normally have, but all teams are working with the same level of information.”
In a few years, we may find that teams did worse than usual at evaluating talent in the 2021 NFL draft, thanks to that most unusual of 2020 college football seasons. Belichick knows this year provides some unique challenges.