How Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes is making do in most unusual draft ever – Detroit Free Press

Bob Quinn drafted from his basement last spring, with a Winnebago parked in his driveway and his two kids helping to keep his draft board in order.

Brad Holmes will be back in the Detroit Lions‘ Allen Park practice facility next week, with a more familiar setup even if things aren’t quite back to normal from the coronavirus pandemic.

Holmes said in his pre-draft news conference Friday that the Lions will have a traditional draft room, albeit with only 10 people allowed inside.

The NFL notified teams last month they could have up to 10 vaccinated and mask-less people inside their draft rooms, or 20 people if everyone was masked.

“I’ve been in the draft rooms where it was a packed house in there, and I’ve been in the draft room where it was kind of more thinned out, and that was pre-pandemic where it was just less people in the room,” Holmes said. “I think there’s pluses and minuses to both.

Lions general manager Brad Holmes speaks to the media on Friday, April 23, 2021, in Allen Park

“When there’s more people in the room you might have a little bit quicker access if you need more intel, you need to ask some questions. It might make the process a little more efficient. But I’ve also seen it the other side where you may be able to manage some things a little bit better when it’s more of a thinned-out room.”

While draft rooms are back in style this year — literally; Holmes’ old team, the Los Angeles Rams, converted a rented California beach house into its draft headquarters — the pre-draft process was unusual in many ways.

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The NFL combine was cancelled in February, private workouts were prohibited, and teams were allowed to send a maximum of just three people to pro day workouts in-person.

Prospects could not make top-30 visits to NFL team facilities for physicals and meetings, though teams were allowed to hold up to five one-hour virtual meetings with players for the second straight spring.

Former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt called it “the most unusual draft” ever, and NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said there will be significant fallout on draft day.

“Last year, as weird as it was, we got the combine in, so you had 330-plus guys that had good medical (evaluations),” Jeremiah said. “This year you only end up having 150 guys go to Indy (for physicals) and (because of) COVID or other reasons you had some key players that didn’t make it there. You’ve got incomplete medical information on these guys, and nothing scares a general manager more than not having the medical.

Feb 12, 2021; Clemson, SC, USA;  Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer (middle) watches as Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence works out during Pro Day in Clemson, South Carolina. Mandatory Credit: David Platt/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

“When you look at the number of picks and you look at the number of physicals, there’s going to be a lot of guys that get picked this year that teams are not comfortable with medically, and that’s why I think you’re going to see teams very willing to part with late picks in this draft to move up in Rounds 3 and 4 and all the way up into Round 2, and you’re going to see teams comfortable with trading some picks this year for picks next year just because once we get to the back half of the draft you’re literally flying blind on these kids medically.”

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Holmes said he found the pre-draft process advantageous in one way – cutting out the fluff of the combine and measuring prospects more on what matters, how they play football.

“Hopefully next year it can get back so we can get more eyes on the players live and up close,” Holmes said. “But we used all the resources that we had and were able to make the most of it.”

Missing Malibu

The Rams’ draft digs went viral earlier this week when they sent out pictures and video of the 9,000-square-foot Malibu mansion they will be making their picks from.

Their headquarters include an infinity pool and fireplace, and they gave Holmes a light moment with his old boss, Rams GM Les Snead, this week.

“I was actually on the phone with Les just the other day and actually had to put him on FaceTime because we had snow coming down in Detroit, so I had to let him know, I was like, ‘Look, that beach house looked really great, but this is our draft set up,'” Holmes said. “I kind of put the phone out to the window so he could see all the snow falling. And he was just laughing at me. But it looks like a cool set up. I hope those guys get everything that they need out of that set up.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.