The NFL Draft just went virtual
Editor in Chief
Amongst all this pandemic and crisis, the NFL Draft came and went and it couldn’t have gone any smoother. There was a great deal of high tension and nervousness on how the draft would go as the draft was conducted virtually for the first time ever due to COVID-19.
We all hope the NFL never again has a reason to conduct a virtual draft. But some of the necessary inventions of this year’s event should maybe carry on, both structure and philosophy.
There was plenty of hype surrounding this draft as well because of the coronavirus enforced information gap between teams. Due to travel bans over the last month, opposing team officials were not able to attend as many pro days and workouts as usual.
Many reporters and analysts spoke on how many teams could trade up or have surprising picks, but by the end, the weekend actually went mostly by the book. A couple of surprises here and there, nothing too crazy.
The entire draft was done virtually, meaning everyone was interacting with each other through webcams and over the phone, all electronically. All 255 picks and 29 trades were all submitted without any issues. Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL, announced the picks in his own basement or what he called his “man cave.”
I cannot tell you enough how genuinely enjoyable it was to see these executives, coaches and general managers in the comfort of their own homes, surrounded by their families and loved ones, as they did their usual work that required professional isolation.
Who couldn’t be touched by seeing the proud face of Detroit Lions Head Coach Matt Patricia’s son, sitting inches from his dad as he made decisions that would impact thousands of lives or even the interesting home office of Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh who had a collection of birdhouses surrounding him.
For Goodell there was no getting a big emotional hug from a player who just cashed in on their dreams of making it to the league. All there was was video of each player in their living rooms receiving the news either jumping for joy or crying of relief and fulfillment.
The draft started at pick No. 1 with the Cincinnati Bengals taking LSU Quarterback Joe Burrow. Then the following four picks were followed as No. 2 Washington Redskins taking Ohio State Defensive End Chase Young, No. 3 Detroit Lions taking Ohio State Cornerback Jeff Okudah, No. 4 New York Giants took Georgia Offensive Tackle Andrew Thomas, and No. 5 with the Miami Dolphins taking Alabama Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
The Miami Dolphins entered the draft with the most picks in the league and this was their draft to control. Much credit to the Dolphins on finally taking their guy, Tua, after all the smoke screen antics on skipping on him and taking an offensive lineman instead or QB Justin Herbert from Oregon seem to catch a lot of attention. No one knows if Tagovailoa’s injury woes will follow him into the NFL, but this was a shot Miami needed to take, his potential was too great to pass up on. Along with adding help and drafting offensive linemen in three different rounds they did pretty well this year.
Now to look at the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers who made more of a noise with their surprise picks rather than when the Fins got their franchise QB. We witnessed both those teams unexpectedly draft quarterbacks and infuriate a good portion of their fan bases in the process.
How could the Packers draft a QB with Aaron Rodgers desperately needing the most receiving help ever? And the same question goes directed to the Eagles but for Carson Wentz. Both teams have every right to expect to be in the mix again this season, why not get help for your franchise QB?
For the Packers, this kind of looks familiar to when they drafted Rodgers in 2005, the Packers were being led by 35-year-old QB Brett Favre. Instead of acquiring defensive help, which they needed much of, that year in the draft they acquired Aaron Rodgers and it’s worked out pretty well for them.
Now for the Eagles who are a little over two years of winning a Super Bowl but have struggled to build on that title run since. Although they have their star QB in the bag, they cannot count on Wentz staying healthy and they’ve always been a franchise to have a good second option at QB.
Considering there were many winners and losers in this draft, we have yet to know the future of these rising athletes and their success.
The ease of the virtual draft has left general managers brainstorming about the future. The chance to work from home and still execute the same decisions has caught the eye of many of these people who work long hours away from their family.