The NFL draft is set to take place between April 23rd and April 25th. Now, due to public health and safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL is hosting the entirety of the draft online. This way, prospect players, coaches, general managers, and executives who are stuck at home as non-essential employees, can still make their selections while avoiding any sort of group interaction.
“We have reviewed this matter in the past few days with both the competition committee and CEC (a group of league executives). And this will confirm that clubs will conduct their draft operations remotely, with club personnel separately located in their homes. Moreover, we want all NFL personnel to comply with government directives and to model safe and appropriate health practices. Our staff will carry out its responsibilities in the same way, operating in separate locations outside of our offices,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a memo to teams.
Goodell went on to state that he consulted with medical advisers about the situation and they all agreed that the only type of draft alternative that would fully protect every participant from possible exposure to covid-19 would be a remote virtual draft.
According to the NFL, the entire league is going to conduct a mock 32-team draft before the official one in order to ensure that the entire process works smoothly without any technical difficulties. There’s a multitude of tech executives working for the NFL that are remotely working on the back end of the platform the virtual draft will take place on. These executives will also be performing multiple system checks before every player draft in case any technical issues appear as the draft is occurring.
Of course, coaches are still worried about technical difficulties occurring during one of the NFL’s biggest days of the year, as well as how tight online security would be during. Coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens recently spoke with the Baltimore Sun about this exact concern.
“Every time I read something in, like, The Wall Street Journal or the New York Times that talks about how messed up Zoom is, or some of these other deals … I immediately text it to our IT people, and [director of football administration] Nick Matteo’s one of those guys, and they assure me that we are doing everything humanly possible. We’ll see what happens, I really wouldn’t want the opposing coaches to have our playbook or our draft meetings. That would be preferable, if we can stay away from that.”
Other NFL executives and coaches have also expressed their hacking concerns as well. Los Angeles Rams Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Demoff, spoke to a newspaper column recently about how he was worried about making conversations private regarding draft boards and players. Additionally, fans are disappointed that they’re being robbed of seeing some of their favorite players’ reactions to being drafted.
In response to this concern, the NFL is providing home cameras for certain players, like LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who is one of the top picks for prospective players this year. Goodell went on in his statement to say that the entire company is working to ensure that a virtual draft not only runs as smoothly as possible, but is entertaining as well. There is likely going to be a decent amount of highlight reels during the event, as well as a musical act.
A virtual draft is the safest option for the NFL right now. Coronavirus concerns are only continuing to grow here in America, so it’s important that we all are following the proper protocols and staying indoors. You were likely planning on watching the draft from your home anyway, this is just like that, but more mandatory.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.