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The NFL Draft process will now weigh heavily on the minds of the Miami Dolphins front office. The team’s labors to build a better, more competitive roster in 2020 paid off — Miami doubled their win total from five to 10 wins on the season and the Dolphins’ offensive and defensive improvements were aplenty. If Miami can replicate that success on top of the foundation they’ve established in 2020?
But the draft process may be even more complicated than last season’s amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Because last season’s cycle saw the coronavirus enter the picture right on the heels of the event — which is held at the end of February and beginning of March each year. At least the NFL Combine gave the Dolphins and the rest of the NFL enough boxes to check to complete the standardized evaluation process on college prospects.
They may not have that luxury in 2021. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the NFL is set to decide the fate of the 2021 NFL Combine this week.
The NFL’s Scouting Combine, a gateway to the league’s off-season and a tradition in Indianapolis since 1987, has been downgraded to questionable for next month with a decision on its future coming this week.https://t.co/vJWk1WoJbZ
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 10, 2021
“After weeks of discussion, the NFL plans to decide at last whether there will be a combine this year and what form it will take,” writes Schefter.
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, sources said the league has debated numerous ways to approach it: have it in a reduced form in Indianapolis in February, push it back to April, or simply just use regional combines that would eliminate the need for many of the prospects to travel to Indianapolis, as they regularly have done for the past three-plus decades.”
If there is no Combine, the Dolphins will miss out on a central hub in which a lot of business between players and teams, and between teams themselves, takes place. And a lack of a Combine may also reduce the perceived value of some of the top tier NFL Draft selections — which could prompt teams, including Miami, to kick their assets down the road to 2022.
This offseason may not be in uncharted waters, but this is still out of the status quo. How Miami navigates them with so much invested into the NFL Draft is going to be critical to defining their success in the years ahead.