Local college stars prepare for atypical NFL Draft

The NFL Draft. In the midst of a pandemic.

“It’ll be exciting,” says former Stanford tight end Colby Parkinson. “It’s gonna be a unique draft but one that people will remember for sure.”

Unique – and challenging – for all involved.

“Right now normally I’d be working out for teams, flying out, going on visits and stuff like that,” says Parkinson.

His former coach, David Shaw, adds: “It’s difficult, especially since most guys didn’t have a pro day. It’s forcing the NFL teams to go back and watch the film, just evaluate off the film.”

“The Zoom technology that’s available to do interviews and workouts has really helped through the process,” says Cal coach Justin Wilcox.

Come Thursday, that process – however unusual - will realize its playoff. At which point the questions become more traditional and fundamental. When – and by whom – will these guys get drafted?

“The only thing that’s different is the money,” says former Cal safety Ashtyn Davis. “For me it’s just about getting my foot in the door. This has been a dream of mine my whole life, so regardless of where I’m selected I’ll be giving a first-round talent to that team.”

And therein lies the beauty of the event. Even without the customary pomp and circumstance, it will provide validation for years of hard work – by players and coaches. A chance to bask in the moment, each in his own way.

“It’s fun for us to watch and enjoy that process for them,” says Wilcox.

“These guys are talented and motivated and pushing themselves to that point, but there’s a lot of pride that comes from us coaches when we help a young man fulfill his dreams,” adds Shaw.

“I’m excited and I’m enjoying it as it comes, but I’m not putting too much into it before it happens,” says Davis.

Former Stanford linebacker Casey Toohill puts it all into perspective.

“It’s so surreal to even be in the position where I am thinking about reacting to that. I think if I stay in the moment, let whatever happens naturally, remember that I’m grateful for everything that’s happened thus far, then I think it’ll be a pretty sweet moment.”