Why This Year's NFL Draft Is So Much Different

Mason Thompson | April 11th, 2020

On Monday, commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo to all 32 NFL teams saying that the draft will be fully virtual. While this was a common thought of what was going to happen, it still sent shockwaves through the league and media for a variety of reasons. The league also recommended that each team’s personnel members be in separate locations during the time of the draft. This is another milestone in the long road of events that have been postponed or canceled due to the pandemic.

This changes every team’s plans and strategies about the draft. Let’s take a look at some things that change because of this announcement.

Television Broadcast

Once the draft was announced to not take place in front of thousands in Vegas, everyone knew it would be different. That was before even the personnel for each team were sent home and not allowed in the same area. The broadcast will be more awkward than ever. While names like Rich Eisen and Daniel Jeremiah will still be involved, they will be in different areas and Goodell could be all alone in a room announcing picks. Instead of the players coming up to shake Goodell’s hand, the draftees will now likely be interviewed over a zoom call. This isn’t as big of a deal as it may seem, but there have been some pretty interesting things that have happened due to the players being interviewed in person.

It is unknown if any analyst such as Adam Schefter or Ian Rapoport will have any insight as they have in years past. The teams will all have their own virtual draft room and any outsiders likely will have to go through a rigorous road to even be allowed in the call on draft day.

War Rooms

One of the best aspects the draft had to me was the look in at the war rooms for each team. Now, since personnel members for each team are being told to conduct the draft from their own houses, this will not be included. Teams will now be having “war rooms” via zoom, an app that has benefitted from this pandemic. While this is good news, there is also some bad news.

Each personnel member will be in different houses, sometimes different states. There are bound to be some technical problems because of this. The league is scheduled to have a “mock” draft in the coming week or so to put the feel of the draft in action. Of course, because these “war rooms” are happening online, there is the possibility of someone hacking into each team’s zoom call and finding out what their plan is for the draft.

Scouts will now have to be more adamant on their guys. The team’s scouts have worked endlessly for nine months to get to this point on April 23rd. While the team has gone through tons of film, it all culminates here. There will be some heated discussions during the allotted time on the zoom calls in two weeks between some players for teams.

The Draft Itself 

There is a lot that has been canceled in recent months. Pro days and top-30 visits have been canceled, which are often deal-breakers between two players. There will most likely be a lot more movement than usual on days two and three, with teams looking to get the players they are most comfortable with. While these trades usually involve picks in the current draft, there could be more future picks traded than ever before. In round one, the aggressive trades will come from quarterback-needy teams, but also teams falling in love with one specific player and mortgaging their future on that one player.

Draft boards will be smaller than usual. The combine or pro day darlings of the past will now have a difficult time getting drafted, along with small school prospects. Another factor with the smaller draft board is medical problems. Prospects with a long list of medical problems will most likely endure a long slide on draft day. Notable players such as Tua Tagovailoa and Laviska Shenault Jr. might be in for a long day on Thursday because of the lack of interaction teams have been allowed with players. Players such as Tyler Johnson and Saahdiq Charles could endure a long slide on day two or day three due to character concerns that teams couldn’t learn more about at pro days or interviews.

The draft will be exciting to watch in two weeks as each team will not only have to deal with other teams trying to steal their picks but also technology. It will be interesting to see who falls due to medical concerns or character problems due to the lack of time each team had to consult each player. These next 12 days can’t come soon enough.

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