This would be a nightmare realized for the NFL, who has made it clear the 2020 NFL Draft will not be postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The league made the wise decision to force all 32 teams into closing their respective facilities and the offseason will begin in a virtual capacity to mirror what’s set to take place with the draft itself, but the latter is a much more massive undertaking when considering all the variables. Each general manager will be mandated to submit picks while sheltering in place at home, and without staff physically present.
Outside of the obviously added complexities of orchestrating trades and the like, there are also looming concerns regarding possible technical and security issues that could surface during the draft, so the NFL decided to run a virtual mock Monday to get ahead of whatever they might be. As suspected, there were glitches and more than a few communication faux pas, leading to several GMs reportedly becoming upset with the entire process.
“There are early communication issues because 32 of us [general managers] are on conference call and we didn’t hit mute. Sounds awful,” one GM reportedly told Dianna Russini of ESPN.
Yet another reached out to the media and reportedly noted a much more damning problem, and one that could halt the entire first round of the draft — or in any round — if it happens during the biggest weekend of the NFL offseason.
“Mock draft today — already [a] technical glitch with Cincinnati’s first pick!!!” the aforementioned anonymous GM told Adam Schefter of ESPN.
An additional issue was with the amount of bandwidth, or lack thereof, present in the virtual mock.
The NFL has only a couple days between their practice run and the curtain lifting on Thursday, April 23 at 8 p.m. ET to get all of the technical problems ironed out, or they’ll be met with fiery criticism from those around the league who felt the draft should’ve been delayed due to COVID-19 regulations. Many of those detractors are reportedly GMs themselves, whose concerns were met with no change to the draft schedule.
With no other sports available to distract the masses, that many more eyes will be on the NFL draft this year, and fumbling the ball when commissioner Roger Goodell insisted on running it from his own one-yard line simply isn’t an option.