Chatfield alum Dalton Keene embracing adjusted path to the NFL Draft

Chatfield Ralston Valley football

(Lance Wendt/LanceWendt.com)

Player highlight packages on NFL Draft week have a tendency to project each prospect as doing the best they can to get selected with the most up to date technology in the flashiest of facilities.

After all, to be the biggest, fastest and best they would logically need the equipment to fuel that growth.

But that's only one piece of the draft process. There are pro days, face to face meetings and interviews that all encompass where a player gets selected and which team makes that selection.

But not this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely shut down the sports world. Basketball, hockey and baseball games aren't being played. PGA Tour stars are sitting in a state of limbo until they can return at the proposed time in June.

For college football players leading up to arguably the most important week of the year, confinement has dominated day to day life.

For a guy like Chatfield alum Dalton Keene, it's not too big of an issue. If anything, the tight end prospect who spent his college days at Virginia Tech is at peace with the way the 2020 NFL Draft is going to play out.

Keene is at home in Colorado. He spent his time at the annual combine chatting with teams and giving them a sense of who is he is not just as a football player, but as a person. Because of those interviews, he's not overly concerned about having to chat with someone on a platform such as Zoom or FaceTime.

"I think it will be a problem for some guys," Keene said. "I don't think it will be a big problem for me because I haven't had any off-field situations in the past that would cause any concerns. Some guys have. They're good guys, but they don't get that face-to-face conversations with the coaches to prove them wrong."

Keene instead will try to prove himself right. He was a more powerful force running the ball for the Chargers as he amassed 1,175 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns his senior year.

When he got to Blacksburg he became a full-blown college tight end and that's how he plans on entering the NFL.

Tight ends have a tendency to be big, so Keene was more interested in training and making sure that his size and skills were not suffering through the pandemic.

Dalton Keene's makeshift workout room . (Photo via Dalton Keene)

Throughout the day, he can be found in his parents' garage pounding weights and running through some boxing exercises. This wouldn't be possible without the help of Chatfield coach Bret McGatlin.

"I got a squat rack from Chatfield," Keene said. "I was able to go pick one up. It was awesome. I also grabbed a bunch of weights so I've been able to do everything there. I also just run on my own and I have my brother throwing me balls and just doing a little bit of everything."

The key for Keene is maintaining his versatility through a time where it's difficult to work personally with coaches and trainers. He's using programs from high school all the way through college to maintain his day-to-day training regimen and has been receiving training programs from coaches that he worked with before he went to the combine.

"I've also been working with someone from Landow Performance," Keene said. "She's been sending me some running workouts to do as well."

He's keeping it business as usual because he feels like he's taken of the one part of this draft process that has been affected the most. He's confident with his character that he doesn't need to make the rounds to various teams to try and sell his personality. Before the pandemic really took hold, he had an opportunity to present himself to several teams and knew that it was enough from an off-field stance.

"I got to a talk to a lot of teams face to face and that was really good," Keene said. "After that, once everything got shut down it's a few FaceTime calls. They're really making sure they know how to get in contact with us. We talk a little football, my experiences at Virginia Tech and what brought me to where I am now."

Where he is now is simply waiting for his name to get called. Lance Zierlein at NFL.com has him projected as a sixth-round pick. Either way, Keene plans on hanging at home with his family as his NFL fate is decided.

Once his name gets called, he'll begin the process of integrating himself into his new team while remaining compliant with America's current reality.