More importance placed on Vols’ pro day without NFL Combine

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    Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

    The Tennessee football program is scheduled to hold its pro day later this month, as it works to make up ground this year without an NFL combine.

    Leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft has been a complete overhaul compared to the previous years, as there will be no combine in Indianapolis. All evaluations of players must be held at their designated pro day and only a certain amount of representatives from each NFL team will be allowed. Usually this time of year would consist of player interviews at team facilities and workouts in front of scouts. But not this year, as NFL teams aren’t allowed to interact with players until their pro day.

    For players like Trey Smith, Josh Palmer, Brandon Kennedy, Bryce Thompson and others, they have to wait until they’re back inside the Anderson training facility to interact with teams. This seems a bit excessive, but it is the time we’re living in. A potential prospect is not even allowed inside a team’s facility to visit a former college teammate. The game has changed in 2021.

    This year, you won’t see Palmer running routes inside Lucas Oil Stadium on the NFL Network, though maybe you’ll see a few videos on social media. The 40-yard dash, which has been a highlight for viewers over the years will be absent for your viewing this time. NFL teams can conduct virtual interviews with Trey Smith as much as they want leading up to the draft, but nothing in-person.

    NFL teams will be able to give medical testing, be available for timing and watch drills at each particular pro day, but nothing before then. This is why the Senior Bowl was so important this year, as it gave each team the opportunity to watch players up close, get their full measurements and run medical tests.

    Also this year, college teams are only allowed to have a maximum of five players that schools would classify as “designated underclassmen,” according to a memo sent out to each NFL team and university about the events.

    Tennessee is scheduled to hold its pro day on March 25, which is the same day teams like Penn State and Ole Miss will hold theirs.

    I’ve been told that each participating school, including Tennessee, will make their pro day as much like the NFL Combine as possible. So what you’ve seen over the years, will be taking place inside indoor facilities across the country. Look for the NFL to work with each school in how the drills and testing takes place.

    This is a very big event for certain Tennessee players, as they look to improve their draft stock. It definitely helped that a few players have already participated in postseason All-Star games and have already spoken to teams. But, as we get closer to March 25, the pressure builds for players to put together a good showing.

    Tennessee has yet to release a full list of names of who is participating in its pro day this year.

    Trey Wallace is a Knoxville-based journalist who has been covering University of Tennessee athletics since early 2018. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football's biggest stories. His vast social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of Vol Nation's most trusted sources. Wallace was born and raised in Mobile, AL and graduated from the University of South Alabama. He loves the mountains as much as the beach and looks forward to living in East Tennessee for many years to come.