The loss of the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine will impact everyone involved in the scouting process, but even if means no networking for NFL media or the inability to watch the event for five days on TV, the prospects are truly affected more than anyone else.
Let's zero in on the prospects who'll be hurt the most by the lack of a normal combine in Indianapolis this year.
Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
At 6-foot-2 and 1/2 inches, 212 pounds with long arms -- over the 32-inch threshold some teams have for outside cornerbacks -- with the athletic gifts of defensive much smaller and more compact, Melifonwu was primed to erupt at the 2021 combine.
In 2017, his brother, Obi, was widely considered a Day 3 selection before the combine. Then, at 6-4 and 221 pounds, he ran 4.40, had a 44-inch vertical and a 141-inch broad jump, and sky-rocketed into the second round. The genetics in the Melifonwu family are phenomenal.
And in a crowded cornerback class, Melifonwu was precisely the type of prospect with quality film that made many wonder -- just how athletic is he? Had the combine happened as normal, he was one of the surest bets to climb boards. Now he'll have to wait until the Syracuse pro day.
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
Right now, the tight end class is Kyle Pitts, a grand canyon sized gap, then Freiermuth, the junior who only appeared in four games in 2020 for the Nittany Lions. Like Pitts, Freiermuth showed he belonged early in his college career -- he caught eight touchdowns and averaged 14.2 yards per catch as a redshirt freshman in 2018.
The combine would've at least given Freiermuth the opportunity to prove he was in the same stratosphere athletically at Pitts, and on film, he does move impressively for his size. That's another thing -- Freiermuth was likely to weigh in much heavier than Pitts and close to the same height, thereby indicating he's more prepared for life blocking in the NFL.
Without the ability to stack up with Pitts in weigh-ins and in the workouts, Freiermuth loses the chance to close the gap on the consensus top tight end in the class, and create space between him and the third tight end in the 2021 class.
Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn
Schwartz had a reputation as one of -- if not the -- fastest players in all of college football in 2020. The two-sport star at Auburn timed a blistering 10.21-second time outdoors in the 100-meter dash with the Tigers in 2019. For perspective, Henry Ruggs' best time in high school was 10.58.
Not particularly polished as a route-runner or in contested-catch situations, Schwartz's speed is where he hangs his hat, and he was a serious candidate to run the fastest 40 at the combine. Obviously, that feat -- or really, running anywhere in the 4.30s -- would've ballooned his draft stock to new heights, potentially even elevating him into the Day 2 conversation.
Carlos Basham, EDGE, Wake Forest
Basham is certified freak. No. 2 on Bruce Feldman's "Freaks" list over the summer, under the subheading "freakiest attribute" Feldman wrote "pick one" in Basham's profile.
The Wake Forest star isn't built like most edge rushers at slightly over 6-3 and 281 pounds. He has tree trunks for arms, and his film is littered with jaw-dropping bends around the corner for the most chiseled guy on the field.
There's some inconsistency in his game -- he can disappear for stretches -- but the first-step explosion, sustained speed, and flexibility are of top half of the first round caliber. The combine would've (likely) been the stepping off point for Basham, and his workout would've cemented him into the first round. Sure, he'll get his pro day, but I'd bet money he would've been a big "stock up" prospect after the combine.
Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington
Another uniquely sized trench player, Onwuzurike is just under 6-3 and tips the scales at 290 pounds. He's super-agile on film and has good closing speed on the quarterback. Similar to Basham, he's not incredibly reliable from a productive standpoint, yet his flashes are magnificent, and Washington asked him to eat blockers more than you would expect for an athlete of his size.
At the combine, Onwuzurike could've demonstrated he has the physical profile of a penetrating three-technique and potentially bulked up a little to indicate to teams he can hang with the big boys from a nose tackle position to halt the run if need be -- he did it often for the Huskies.