IMG Academy sports performance coach shares challenges, heightened role preparing athletes for NFL amid COVID-19 pandemic

Sports

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Through this coronavirus pandemic, nearly every facet of the NFL Draft preparations since the combine has looked different, including an increased role of trainers communicating with NFL teams.

One of those trainers is IMG Academy’s Strength and Conditioning Speed and Development Coach Mo Wells.

Wells said this year he’s been a huge part of the process for his athletes, in helping fill-out their profile and providing extra information to NFL teams.

COVID-19 mandates prohibited teams from bringing draft prospects to their facilities, and also caused pro days to be canceled, making it harder to evaluate players.

“I’ve talked to a lot of teams stemming from when I was at the combine and even now,” Wells said. “I’ve had to talk to a lot of teams, trainers, coaches, doctors. That contact has increased. I kind of feel like an athlete in the sense of I have to meet with just as many people as [the players] do. But it’s all for the greater good of getting those guys drafted and giving those teams the information they need and background information on every athlete. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Wells said he expects to have five to seven first-rounders in this draft class, including LSU’s Grant Delpit, K’Lavon Chaisson, Patrick Queen, Justin Jefferson and Kristian Fulton to name a few.

As a former track and field stand-out at LSU himself, Wells has that direct pipeline to Baton Rouge, training the top LSU players and preparing them for the pros.

He has a lot of speed in this year’s group but said that comes second to the basics.

“The most critical part even before speed is health,” Wells said. “If these guys aren’t healthy, if these guys don’t have the proper mechanics to be able to last during a season, during training camp, during OTAs, with at least a 20-game season – and even more when you’re going into the playoffs and when you include the preseason – I think health is the first thing. Movement quality is very, very important because that leads to reduced injury.”

In speaking about this year’s draft and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in particular, Wells weighed-in on which of his guys he thinks could be a good fit on Bruce Arians’ squad.

“If they’re looking at depth defensively, I think K’Lavon Chaisson is a great fit,” he said. “He’s a fast, explosive, athletic guy that could be a great fit there. Also hopefully they saw Grant [Delpit] move, saw him run. I think he’d be a great fit in Tampa as well at that safety position because I do believe they need some defensive back help as well. It’s just how high do you want to take that safety pick.”

Wells said some of his guys were a little disappointed they won’t get that full NFL Draft experience – getting all dressed up, the red carpet, walking across that stage in front of a huge live audience. But he reminded them that the bottom line is that they are still getting drafted and still going to the NFL, and that is what really matters.

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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