In an interview with ChicagoBears.com Tuesday, general manager Ryan Pace revealed that prior to the draft the Bears will have conducted hourlong video interviews with more than 100 prospects on Skype.
But even with the information gleaned from those sessions, the team is relying more than ever on its college scouts given that campus visits and in-person interviews are prohibited due to the coronavirus.
"We always lean on our college scouts and we always feel like they're valuable assets to our team," Pace said. "But this year especially with the inability to go out and get to their schools or bring in a bunch of guys, just leaning on the experiences of our college scouts and the amount of information that they've collected, I think that's been really big for us."
Business as usual: Because the draft is being conducted on a virtual basis for the first time this year, some NFL observers are predicting that there will be some big differences, such as fewer trades. But Pace expects next week's draft to be business as usual.
"When we first heard how we were going to do it, you'd start thinking, 'Well, maybe there will be fewer trades,'" Pace said. "But the more comfortable we've got with the technology—the NFL has done a great job rolling everything out for us—right now going into it as a staff there's no difference for us.
"We feel really comfortable with our setup and the technology we have. I don't feel like there's going to be a difference. I'm sure there's a little anxiety for everybody just because it's different. But I feel like everybody's embraced it and just quickly adapted. That's what's been cool to see, and it's leaguewide, just how fast everybody's adapted and embraced the current situation."
Watching tape: Agents regularly have been sending workout videos of their prospects to the Bears throughout the pre-draft process.
"We all joke that it's kind of hard to time a 40 on a video somebody sends you because there's a lot of technology you could use where you don't know how accurate some of it is," Pace said.
The videos are helpful, however, especially when they feature players recovering from injuries.
"There are some blank spaces we need to fill in with some of these guys because we haven't seen them work out," Pace said. "They could be coming off of surgery. As we get information on that and we have video of them moving around and working out, it gives us as much reassurance as you can get that they're trending in a good direction."
Even when Pace is watching the prospect videos, he's often reminded of the seriousness of the situation the world is facing due to the coronavirus.
"It always takes you back when you watch these guys working out and a lot of them are wearing masks," Pace said. "Every now and then you just have those moments where you're like, 'Man, this is a crazy time we're in right now.'"