The coronavirus pandemic has forced the NFL to try out something it never has before: going 100 percent virtual. Earlier this week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the NFL will hold a virtual draft with team personnel separately located in their homes — which means teams could potentially run into problems they’ve never encountered before during one of the most important events of the year.
While several issues could arise such as videoconferencing hacking, internet outages or power outages, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is more excited than he is apprehensive.
“I think our guys have really embraced it and done a good job of adjusting,” Taylor said during a virtual press conference on Wednesday. “We’re excited to see what the draft looks like this way. I know there are some people uneasy around the league about it, but I’m excited to see how it all plays out and what it looks like and who can adjust the best.”
The league plans to hold a full 32-team mock draft in advance of the real event so they can try to work out all of the kinks, but Taylor says the Bengals have had meetings with everybody who will be involved in the draft process over the last few weeks, and they feel comfortable about embracing this challenge.
“We’ve had meetings with everybody in the building over the last three weeks. We all feel real comfortable with it,” Taylor said. “You can make phone calls. It does benefit us, because we pick at the top of the round in a lot of those rounds, so you’re coming off an open day, really, and so we have some communication that can take place over an 18-hour period in a couple of those rounds. Again, we feel very, very comfortable with the process that’s going to unfold for us. We’ve had great communication throughout.”
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh voiced his concern about his earlier this week, and he’s clearly not as excited for this virtual event as his fellow AFC North head coach.
“Yeah, big concern,” Harbaugh said during a conference Zoom call on Monday, via Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun. “Every time I read something in, like, the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times that talks about how messed up Zoom is, or some of these other deals … I immediately text it to our IT people, and [director of football administration] Nick Matteo’s one of those guys, and they assure me that we are doing everything humanly possible.”
Additionally, NFL staff members about IT employees entering their homes for fear of spreading the virus, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. While there will surely be some technological learning curves NFL general managers and head coaches will have to get over, the fact that the league plans on hosting a practice draft should help put everyone at ease. The Bengals hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, so they will kick off the virtual event come Thursday April 23.recently amongst certain coaches and other