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NFL Draft

Toledo Coach Jason Candle Believes Steelers a Great Fit for Diontae Johnson



When drafting a player, an organization is hoping to acquire someone who’s not only talented but also a person with great character

That second part is sometimes easier said then done but early indications are the Steelers have accomplished that with 3rd round pick Diontae Johnson.

Here’s a pretty solid endorsement from wide receivers coach Darryl Drake.

“I’ve been doing this for 40 years and he was one of the best interviews and guys I’ve been around in a long time.”

Johnson received more praise this morning from Toledo Head Coach Jason Candle, who spoke to Steelers Now. 

“I believe the Steelers drafted a young man that’s very hungry and eager to learn and get better everyday and someone that will be a great teammate,” said Candle. “His playmaking ability speaks for itself. He arguably had the two best games of his career against Miami, Fla. who have great defensive backs. His productivity and overall growth have improved every year which leads me to believe he has a lot of good football ahead if him.”

”They’ve put stock and trust in him by drafting him that high and that he gives it back to them and repays their trust. Diontae is a relationship based guy and his position coach and him along with his teammates will have solid relationships. When your level of comfort is there, then I feel your talent has a real chance to surface. Diontae has a whole lot of talent.”

The Steelers have a long history of developing wide receivers and Candle believes Johnson will be another player that’s added to this list. Another reason this has a chance to happen is that a future Hall of a Fame quarterback will be throwing to him.

”That’s huge,” said Candle. “Plus, he’s going to an organization that’s been successful. There’s a lot of reason that their success has been sustained and a lot has to do with the quarterback. Ben has the ability to effect everyone in a positive way especially the wideouts. Diontae is a relationship based guy so it’ll be fun to watch them gel together.”

Last night was a big night for Johnson as well as for Toledo football who’ve put another player in the NFL.

”We’re very proud of Diontae and the other guys who potentially can get their names called today. Diontae is our 5th draft pick in the last 3 years. We’re excited that he’s going to a great organization and we’re excited that the Toledo football brand is starting to spread as well. Toledo has a history of recruiting WPIAL players and have a deep respect for the job that the high school coaches do there. Football is important in Western Pennsylvania and we’re just excited that Toledo football has another connection to that area with Diontae and the Steelers.”

NFL Draft

NFL Releases Further Details of Altered Draft Process



After cancelling the in-person NFL Scouting Combine last week due to COVID-19 concerns, the league released further details of the significantly altered draft process in a memo to clubs Friday.

Teams are prohibited from timing, testing, interviewing or examining draft prospects at any location other than all-star games or the respective player’s pro day.

Clubs are also banned from hosting draft prospects for facilities visits, dinners, film sessions and private workouts. Violations of these rules would be subject to punishment in line with the NFL’s anti-tampering policy.

Further muddying the process, clubs will only be allowed to have a maximum of three individuals attend pro days. However, all times and measurements are said to be made available league-wide.

Lastly, the league also released further details and restrictions on the pre-draft interview process. While in-person interviews and visits will be prohibited, they can be conducted virtually or via telephone.

Clubs can schedule up to five video conferences or phone calls with a prospect, with each conversation limited to one hour. Virtual psychological tests will not count against the five interview limit.

Teams can begin conducting interviews with draft eligible underclassmen on Monday, Jan. 25.

Interviews with seniors can begin on Monday, Feb. 1.

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2021 NFL Draft

NFL Cancels In-Person 2021 Scouting Combine in Indianapolis; Pro Days On



After weeks of rumors and speculation, the NFL has made it official, announcing in a memo to clubs Monday they are significant alterations to the 2021 Scouting Combine.

Annually held in Indianapolis, the league is scrapping in-person workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium, instead opting for pro days on college campuses. The NFL will coordinate with schools to ensure “consistency in testing and drills,” providing video of said workouts to all clubs.

Interviews and psychological testing of prospects normally executed at the physical combine will instead be conducted in an entirely virtual format.

As for medical evaluations, limited in-person exams will most likely be conducted over a three-day span in early April. While some evaluations will also be held virtually, an undetermined number of prospects will be invited to designated satellite locations for in-person exams. Each franchise will be permitted to dispatch a physician and athletic trainer to conduct the in-person portion.

Leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft in April, the league will work directly with clubs, schools and affiliated broadcast partners to ensure media availability with Combine invitees. The NFL intends to keep with tradition and make head coaches and general managers available to the media as well.

The altered Combine format was devised and overseen by a special committee of league and club officials, including NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills, Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill and Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert.

Further details regarding protocols and finalized dates will be released as the committee continues to meet and plan over the coming weeks.

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Report: NFL to Make Significant Changes to Combine Due to COVID-19



Major changes to the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine are expected amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a report by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, plans of hosting the combine as traditionally constructed are “dead” following a conference call between league officials Friday. It is becoming increasingly likely that the medical and performance-based portions of the event will be held separately.

A number of alternatives are being considered, including regionalized medical checks, standardized pro days and interviews conducting via Zoom.

With regards to the regional medicals, the NFL could set up shop and administer the examinations at hospital in states where a large number of players are conducting their workouts and preparation, such as Arizona, California, Florida and Texas.

The intent would be to limit travel for players, where as the team physicians conducting the examinations would likely have already received their vaccinations.

Other aspects of the medical process can be accomplished virtually, such as reviewing injury histories.

As for the pro days, NFL or individual team personnel would put players through drills at their respective schools, but standardize each workout to ensure prospects are going through the same exercises as they would in Indianapolis. Measurements and result would then be distributed league-wide as they normally would be.

League officials will continue to meet over the coming days, according to Breer, but a finalized plan is expected later this coming week.

The NFL has also weighed the option of postponing the combine until April, but still holding it in Indianapolis. While it is on the table, the move would likely requirement the 2021 NFL Draft to be postponed as well.

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