If the 2020 NFL season was considered weird because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the college football season was even more unimaginably strange.
Games were postponed or erased with no notice. Seasons were canceled and then reinstated. One school with a notable prospect for the 2021 NFL draft -- North Dakota State and quarterback Trey Lance -- scheduled and played just one game. Others, like Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell and LSU wideout Ja'Marr Chase, opted out of the campaign altogether. NFL teams have less tape to work off for this year's draft class than any in recent memory.
As a result, the league's 32 organizations are faced with a frustrating quandary. Every team wants to find talented players in the draft, but with less information on this class, finding value picks is murkier than ever. As ESPN Seahawks reporter Brady Henderson noted after Seattle sent two first-round picks to the Jets for Jamal Adams, the Seahawks felt the uncertainty of the college season would leave them less confident in their evaluations.
Each of the league's teams is grappling with this issue as they prepare their boards for April's draft. In addition to trying to calibrate picks as teams try to trade for players such as Texas quarterback Deshaun Watson, there will be trades on draft day in which the organizations involved have dramatically different opinions about the value of 2021 picks as opposed to the picks in an ordinary year. Should teams discount those picks and make trades designed to minimize their exposure to this draft?
My instinct is no. If anything, this could be a year in which teams should be more aggressive to acquire at least certain types of picks. I might even have one of the greatest investors in the history of the stock market on my argument's side. Let's look into why: