Unorthodox offseason means unusual, unpredictable NFL draft

FILE - Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence passes against Ohio State during the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game in New Orleans, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. About the only certainty in the confounding 2021 NFL draft is Trevor Lawrence going to the Jaguars with the first overall pick Thursday night in Cleveland. This year's NFL draft is like none other because teams weren't able to meet face-to-face with the pool of prospects outside the lucky few who got to play in the Senior Bowl after a season that was marked by opt outs and cancellations. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
FILE - Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence passes against Ohio State during the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game in New Orleans, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. About the only certainty in the confounding 2021 NFL draft is Trevor Lawrence going to the Jaguars with the first overall pick Thursday night in Cleveland. This year's NFL draft is like none other because teams weren't able to meet face-to-face with the pool of prospects outside the lucky few who got to play in the Senior Bowl after a season that was marked by opt outs and cancellations. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

About the only certainty in the confounding 2021 NFL draft is Trevor Lawrence going to the Jaguars with the first overall pick.

Beyond that, it's really anybody's guess following the most unorthodox of run-ups to the league's annual parade of prospects.

COVID-19 opt-outs and shortened or shelved seasons in the fall were followed by the combine cancellation and the elimination of in-person interviews this spring because of the pandemic.

Teams had to rely on Zoom calls to get to know players.

“I’ve said this before: what we’re doing is educated guessing,” Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said. “So, this makes us a little more uneducated, not having this personal touch with these players.”

Although all 32 teams received the videos from all 103 pro days, the lack of uniform, electronic timing resulted in suspect 40-yard dashes on fast surfaces clocked by hand.

“It’s hard to compare apples to oranges. You’d like to have everybody run on the same surface,” Chargers GM Tom Telesco said. “That’s the biggest part of the Indianapolis combine when the players go in and get their physicals done.”

Only 150 players went to Indy this month for physicals, leaving spotty medical reports on many of the athletes heading into the 259-pick draft.