How will the NFL Draft be Affected by Covid-19?
The 2020 NFL Draft will be the first completely remote NFL draft in league history because of the spread of the Coronavirus. The Draft begins on April 23rd and it will be unlike anything seen before. Last Monday, the NFL announced that the Draft will be conducted virtually and members of each organization will complete the draft from their own home.
In his Memo to NFL teams, Commissioner Roger Goodell said that after consulting with medical advisors, this draft format is the best for these unprecedented circumstances. This diverse draft brings many questions and could bring some obstacles along the way. How will the draft be affected by the stay at home order and the remote aspect?
One thing that has likely caused teams problems throughout the draft process is the lack of interaction with players they may draft. NFL League facilities were officially closed on March 13th with individual teams closing on the 26th. When drafting a player, teams must do a lot of research which includes, studying film, meeting with the players, attending pro days, and much more. While the College Football season did go on as planned, many of the pre-draft activities will be impossible. There are regulations about how long a team can talk to a player online and they are obviously unable to invite them to the facility like they normally can.
So much goes into drafting a player and the 10 minutes that teams have to decide who they are picking may not be enough. As an example, if Titans GM Jon Robinson is thinking about drafting a player, he has to ask the permission of multiple coaches, the owner, the training staff, and more. He also has to call the player and possibly do a few last second checks. With everyone at their own home, this will be a very strenuous time for the GM and the front office staff.
Another concern is the security aspect. Everything, including the draft itself, will take place completely online. It was announced that the NFL will be using Microsoft Teams to conduct the draft. Teams will submit their picks through Microsoft Teams but if they cannot, there is an online room open for them to verbally announce their pick. Additionally, there will be a second, secured, room open for draft trades. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that there will be a "mock draft" of all 32 teams, which will act as a systems check. In the check, teams will submit picks, work on trades, and the league will announce picks.
Rapoport also said that Roger Goodell will be announcing the picks from his basement in Westchester, New York. Additionally, the IT departments for each team and for the league have finished their setup with cameras installed in the homes of all GMs and coaches.
On April 9th, the NFL released the list of 58 players that will participate in the 2020 draft. The list is highlighted by LSU Quarterback Joe Burrow and Ohio State DE, Chase Young. Burrow is one of 8 LSU players on the list and he is widely expected to be the first overall pick. It is unclear how these players will participate in the draft and it is unclear how the draft will be shown on TV. The broadcast will be very interesting to watch and I am guessing there will be technical errors throughout the showing for multiple reasons.
This draft will be unlike anything we have seen before and nobody really knows what to expect.