The 2020 NFL Draft was certainly a unique one, both in terms of the process through which it was planned for and the manner in which it was conducted and disseminated. Overall, it was received pretty well, though, and it leaves many involved wondering, quite simply, if we shouldn’t be doing it this way all along.
At the very least, many expect the NFL and teams to adopt some of the approaches that they took in preparation for this year’s draft and apply it to the future, something that Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II acknowledged while speaking on Steelers Nation Radio during the draft.
“One of the things I thought has been well-received and interesting this year is how many different players, we’ve been able to go into their living room and kind of see them react to being drafted and see them with their families”, he noted, for example.
“Normally there’s probably only 25 or 30 guys that get to go to the draft site. I think this year we’ll have over 100 guys who are visited in some way by technology over the course of the draft”, he added. “It’s interesting, and that may be at least one feature that we keep going forward”.
With (almost) no Pro Days and the inability for teams to bring in prospects for pre-draft visits, teams had to use digital video communication to meet with players, but for the most part, they didn’t really find it to be much of a hindrance, outside of breaking down Xes and Os.
“There’s an unusual experience, and I think we’ll learn things, some of which we may keep going forward”, Rooney said. “Of course, I’ll be surprised if we have scouts that actually start saying, ‘well, we don’t need to go to Pro Days anymore’. I’m gonna wait and see if that really happens”, he joked.
“But I think some of this, for instance the draft-eligible players that come in for visits, it may be that we can actually visit more of them and get almost as much done by doing these Skype interviews and things like that as opposed to having guys spend a couple days, fly in and fly out, really take up everybody’s time doing that. Things like that, I think, we’ll learn from, and then decide if some of these things can be done more efficiently the way we’ve done them this year”.
These remarks echo that of general manager Kevin Colbert prior to the draft, who talked about precisely what I said above, and I have read comments from other teams expressing a similar sentiment. These conditions were forced upon teams due to the viral pandemic, but at least some good may come out of it in the way teams conduct business.