A league-wide ‘mock draft’ is something that has been mentioned a number of times over the course of the past two weeks. That mock draft is set to take place this week, but as we learn more details of what it will actually entail, it increasingly becomes readily apparent that it’s only a mock draft in the simplest sense.
What it really is is merely a systems check to assure that everything is working properly, which is pretty important right now given the necessarily unconventional nature of this offseason. Due to the ongoing pandemic, all team facilities are shuttered, there is no public draft, and general managers will literally be making selections for their teams from their living rooms—or wherever they might be in their house.
Yesterday, Mike Florio wrote that the ‘mock draft’ would be two rounds—but it won’t even include teams selecting players. While actual prospects will be selected, the choices will be randomly made by the league.
He goes on to say that the list of names will come from the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine participation roster and that the names will be alphabetized—presumably selected at random from there. So some priority free agent could technically be ‘chosen’ by the Cincinnati Bengals first overall tomorrow, when this systems check is scheduled to run.
One other difference that separates it from an actual mock draft is that teams will not be selecting in their actual draft order. The order will be randomized, and will surely involve all 32 teams having one selection in each of the two rounds that they will run through.
To do anything else would make no sense, given the purpose of the endeavor. If one team has three first-round picks and another has zero, then you run a systems check for the first team three times and none at all for the second.
To have teams actually select prospects would also have been an obvious blunder, running the risk of teams actually giving away actionable information. Teams would obviously try to choose players that they’re not interested in, which would in itself at least tell other teams who they’re not targeting.
The only purpose of this exercise is to make sure that the equipment involved in connecting all 32 teams and the league offices is working properly to prevent any technical difficulties as the league is set to broadcast the event on Thursday and through the weekend. This is essentially a randomized dress rehearsal, going through stretches rather than a gameplan.