The 2020 NFL Draft will commence two weeks from tomorrow. It will be a draft rather unlike any before. Not only will it lack an actual venue, individual teams will not even be in their own stadiums. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, decisionmakers for every team will likely be sequestered in their own homes.
It wasn’t even so long ago that the NFL announced the draft would indeed be carried out on the original dates planned. There are still things that everybody is trying to figure out between now and then, with many personnel people, publicly and privately, expressing concerns of various natures.
Given the unusual circumstances, many teams are concerned about the possibility of technological failure and if their setup will appropriately serve them when the time comes. The concern is genuine enough that the league, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, is looking to do something about it.
“For most teams, the general manager’s house is going to be the center of the draft operation. A lot of those GMs that I’ve spoken to have one main question: is all of this technology going to work?”, he said. “The NFL has been in contact with individual clubs about their tech setups, what their needs are going to be. Expect the league to run multiple systems checks, including a mock draft of sorts, with all 32 teams involved, to make sure everybody is up to speed before draft day”.
Once GMs have all the technology installed to draft from their basements, expect the NFL to run multiple system tests, including a “mock draft” with all 32 teams before the real draft begins.@NFLTotalAccess @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/2D3Q4qhlAa
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 7, 2020
I’m not entirely sure what he could mean about ‘a mock draft of sorts’ that doesn’t mean a mock draft, unless teams are going to be selecting Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse instead of naming actual players. Perhaps that is what they will do. But I wouldn’t think so.
Teams will be wanting to test a number of variables. They will want to be sure that they can be readily in contract with other teams in order to discuss the possibility of trades, and will want to make sure they are in constant contact with other pertinent members of their own organization.
Now, it should probably go without saying that if they actually simulate a mock draft, it’s likely that at least some teams will actively go out of their way to try not to reveal their hand. We know that some teams have talked about playing smoke and mirrors games, though the Pittsburgh Steelers are not exactly known to be one.
Plus, they don’t have a first-round pick anyway. But that raises another point. If they are only doing a one-round draft, there are several teams who don’t have a first-round pick. The purpose is to test out the equipment, so I would imagine they would run down the draft order, rather than heeding who owns each specific pick.