How will a virtual setup affect the NFL Draft?

A fully virtual draft may not go the way it used to in its traditional format

Louie DiBiase
April 07, 2020 - 1:15 am
2018 NFL Draft

Photo: Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL Draft is on the verge of becoming, let's just say, the most unique draft in a long time.

The league announced on Monday that the draft will be a fully virtual process as team facilities continue to be closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The idea of general managers, scouts, and coaches all having to help with the draft process only connected virtually could make things very interesting.

Maybe interesting isn't the right word. Messy? Chaotic? Perhaps boring? This process could go a number of ways.

An entire organization having to make quick, crucial decisions on the clock while connected only through a virtual conference call is going to be tough. The communication process isn't going to be nearly as fast and efficient as it would in the traditional setting.

For those of you who have grown accustom to using Zoom over the last few weeks to video chat with a large number of friends and family, how often does one person talk over the other? A lot, right? Almost impossible not to, right?

Now imagine you are in a chat room with dozens of people, having to come to an agreement about which prospect to select in just minutes. Are scouts and front office members going to be able to efficiently have back and forths, pounding the table for different prospects, while eventually coming to a majority decision?

Don't forget about trade calls either. Can teams discuss trades on the phone, work it out virtually with their own team without consistent interruptions, and then report the agreement or come to a pick of their own in time?

It sounds like many teams have already had this concern. 

This obstacle could mean far less trades and a more conservative draft, where teams simply stick to the board they constructed. Or maybe the league will consider increasing the amount of time each team gets per-pick considering the circumstances?

One would think there is a good plan in place to ensure the draft goes smoothly, but by the sound of it, however team members connect virtually is up to the individual organizations.

"Accordingly, all clubs should dedicate their personnel and technology resources toward preparing for a fully virtual draft, with personnel in separate locations," the league said in their announcement. 

So how much different will this virtual war room setup actually be compared to your virtual happy hour on Zoom with 10 friends? 

Hopefully Brandon Beane's WiFi is really strong at his house.

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