Virtual Draft: 2020 NFL Draft to be conducted online

David Fernandez
A freelance writer with more than 10 years experience, David is based in sunny Miami, FL. He holds a master's degree in English and Creative Writing, and teaches Journalism. As a freelance writer, David concentrates on sports, health, education and entertainment.

On Monday April 6th, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced to all 32 teams that the 2020 NFL Draft will be a virtual draft. Now, the NFL Draft will look and feel more like a fantasy football draft rather than the yearly extravaganza it has been in years past. 

Coronavirus Response

NFL offices have been closed since March 13th. The league’s headquartered in New York City, one of the epicenters of the coronavirus in the United States. In addition, team facilities throughout the NFL have been closed since March 26th. 

These measures were taken in an effort to protect players and team employees. The memo to the league also said the steps were taken “to ensure competitive equity among all 32 clubs.”

In March, the league prohibited teams from conducting pre-draft visits with prospects at club facilities. This forced teams to rely on virtual methods to meet with prospective players.

The memo went on to explain that: “Given current and expected conditions, and to ensure that we operate responsibly and in full compliance with current regulations, both League and Club facilities will remain closed indefinitely. We will reopen facilities when it is safe to do so based on medical and public health advice, and in compliance with government mandates.”

Virtual Draft

These league-wide, and really society-wide, strictures now ensures that all team personnel will be at home for the NFL Draft. Club GMs and head coaches won’t huddle in team war-rooms to debate the merits of one prospect over another.

Medical personnel will not have access to players pre-draft. This may very well affect the standing of some of these prospects. Alabama’s quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is returning from a serious injury and has been unable to meet in-person with teams.

Commission Goodell told all 32 teams the draft will be held virtually. Teams were instructed “to prepare to conduct the 2020 Draft entirely outside of their facilities and in a fully virtual format, with club personnel in separate locations and able to communicate with one another and Draft headquarters by phone or internet.” 

The draft will lack all physical interaction. So no handshakes or hugs, and no draft-caps. And certainly no attempted chest-bumps like Miami’s Christian Wilkins tried last year. 

Virtual Draft
Apr 25, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Christian Wilkins (Clemson) celebrates with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after he was selected as the number thirteen overall pick to the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in Downtown Nashville. (Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

How It Will Work

As of now, teams are preparing to conduit the NFL Draft virtually. What that means is they’re prepping their internet connections and internal communications. All while organizing communications with the league and the other clubs.

Clubs will participate in a 32-team conference call during the duration of the draft. They can submit their picks in that way should their internet connection lag. They will also have the option of submitting picks via email.

At present, the league has not decided to extend the time for teams to make their selections. However, the NFL will allow time for teams to negotiate potential trades during the draft. 

According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, teams will have technical safeguards set up for the draft. In addition to that, once clubs are ready, the league will host a mock draft to test the process.

The 2020 NFL Draft, originally set for Las Vegas, will also serve as a “Draft-A-Thon.” On Wednesday, the league announced that the virtual draft will also gather funds for six different charities to help combat the coronavirus. 

Don’t miss the rest our NFL Draft coverage, and don’t forget to follow @NFLDraftLounge on Twitter!

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