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Chiefs admit draft medical evaluations have been a challenge

NFL: DEC 20 Chiefs at Saints Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In a memo sent back in mid-January, the NFL effectively canceled the Scouting Combine, noting that draft prospect evaluations would be taking place at college pro days. Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach already expressed concern when it came to on-the-field measurables back in early March.

“There will be limited access to these pro days,” the GM noted. “There will be NFL representation there, but you won’t have full access and you’ll have to be selective in where you go. And you guys know how this works—it’s always interesting to me when you see 40 times. At the combine, you know what they are—they’re run indoors, on turf and the environment is similar. Now, when you go to these pro days you’ll have certain players working out in an indoor facility with a faster track under weather-controlled conditions and then you’ll have some colleges that they’ll be running in 40 degrees and the wind will be blowing in their face. So, when you click on the report, you’ll see the numbers, but it’s going to take a lot of historical research.

“There are schools that typically produce faster 40 times. I don’t want to name names, but we all know there’s a list of schools that we always say, ‘Do they run it 38-yards there or 39-yards there?’ Because you’ll have player X go to the combine and run a 4.5 and then go to their school and run 4.4, 4.38.”

That is not the only problem for the Chiefs — and the rest of the league’s teams.

The change and lack of in-person visits called for limited in-person medical exams. As a potential solution, the NFL was said to be “working alongside club physicians and trainers to develop a way in which to obtain ‘comprehensive medical information on each of the invited prospects.’”

But that has still proven to be an issue — according to ESPN’s Louis Riddick — and confirmed by the Chiefs’ vice president of sports medicine and performance, Rick Burkholder.

Let’s say — hypothetically speaking — Virginia Tech cornerback (and top-10 talent) Caleb Farley fell to the Chiefs at No. 31 due to his back injury. Would they feel comfortable taking him without having an opportunity to evaluate themselves?

Or — perhaps to look at it another way — maybe the fact that teams can’t potentially properly evaluate a player like Farley may mean a talented player with an injury history could fall to the Chiefs. It is an interesting wrinkle to think about when it comes to the draft, which begins just over three weeks from now on April 29.