This year's NFL draft is unlike any other in the history of the league. In order to help curb the spread of COVID-19, prospects will be selected virtually by each of the 32 teams. But that’s only what the public will witness.
Behind the scenes, prospects have had to train, compete and recover in ways they never have before. Isolated, away from their teammates and training partners, relying on only themselves to push through each repetition and each sprint. But that’s what separates Under Armour from the rest. This is how we train and compete; we do what it takes.
Justin Jefferson, Jonathan Taylor and Chase Young share how they’re training and preparing for the moment their names are announced on draft day.
JUSTIN JEFFERSON, WIDE RECEIVER
UA: Has your training changed during social-distancing?
JJ: I’m still training day in and day out. I’m focusing more on individual drills now that I’m training alone, but I've had the opportunity to improvise a bit with new circuits and fine-tune the more traditional ones that I’m used to.
UA: How has it been different working and training without your teammates?
JJ: I’ve had to be more independent and focus more on myself – making sure that I am healthy, safe and ready to compete.
UA: Is recovery a focus for you and if so, how are you recovering at home?
JJ: Recovery is extremely important to me. By recovering properly and getting the necessary treatment, I’m back on on the field faster and better. I’m trying to do everything right to stay healthy and make sure my body is able to compete on the highest level. Some active rest routines I’m doing are different ball drills and hand-eye coordination drills at my house. I’m really focusing on my catching ability and ability to track the ball.
UA: With social-distancing, you haven’t had a traditional introduction process with teams. How have you approached this challenge?
JJ: By continually talking to coaches virtually and making it known that I am a smart football player. I am able to pick up plays fast, and have the ability to be that number one receiver.
UA: What are you most looking forward to when you hear your name announced?
JJ: Celebrating with my family and friends. It’s a big moment, no one in my family has been drafted in the first round before so that possibility is exciting for my family.
JONATHAN TAYLOR, RUNNING BACK
UA: We’re living in uncertain times right now, how has working out been different for you?
JT: It hasn’t changed too much. I’m grateful that I have access to a facility with some equipment that I am able to use to get stronger and faster. There are differences though, things like training while social distancing means that most times I’m alone or have to hit the backyard to put in work.
UA: How has social-distancing changed your mindset on being part of a team?
JT: It hasn't changed. This is just a small bump in the road. At the end of the day, in order to be successful in football you need to be a great teammate. That’s my mindset, understanding when all of this comes to an end, we have to flip that switch back and work together as a team again.
UA: How important is recovery to you, and what’re some recovery methods you’re using at home?
JT: Recovery is very important and something that’s gotten me to the point I’m at today. Just as I would after a game or practice, I’m hitting the foam roller, stretching and taking care of my body so I’m physically and mentally at my best. Routines like this have allowed me longevity on the collegiate level and will continue on into the next chapter.
UA: How have you approached the challenge of interacting with teams during social-distancing?
JT: I have to show my knowledge of the game without being there in person. There are no workouts and no team meetings. Everything is over the phone, texts, calls, FaceTimes and Zoom. All we can do is share what we know about the game.
UA: What are you looking forward to most once you get that call on draft night?
JT: Being on the phone with the organization that's deciding to put their faith and trust in me. It's one thing to hear your name called from the commissioner, but it's another thing to hear “we trust you, we think you're a great player and want you to be here to help us win football games” from a coach or General Manager.
CHASE YOUNG, DEFENSIVE END
UA: Has your training been affected at all by social-distancing?
CY: My training has stayed the same. I’ve been training in a private gym and that’s what I’ve continued to do during this time. Same work, same setting.
UA: How has your mindset changed by training alone without your teammates?
CY: Training for the draft, you usually are doing it alone, competing against yourself to get better. So my mindset is the same. I’m focused on honing all my skills to be prepared for the first day.
UA: How does recovery fit into your training routine?
CY: Recovery is very important to me and a key part of my routine. I make sure I’m doing what my trainer tells me to do, resting and recovering in my down time. I’m continuing to do what’s best for my health and body.
UA: Since you haven’t been able to visit teams during social-distancing, has it been a challenge proving yourself?
CY: Proving myself isn’t a challenge. I believe I’ve shown the type of player I am during my college career and I really look forward to showing that on the field once I’m drafted.
UA: What does draft night mean to you and what’re you looking forward to most?
CY: Just the realization of a dream come true and making my mom proud.