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Before going through with the real thing, the NFL will hold a mock draft with all 32 teams to prepare for the “fully virtual” 2020 draft.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero shared the details on NFL Total Access:
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
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.
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Pelissero shared a league memo Tuesday that instructed teams to prepare for a draft in which they will work remotely away from their official facilities:
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell just informed clubs in a memo that club facilities will remain closed indefinitely and the league will conduct a “fully virtual” draft, with club personnel separately located in their homes. https://t.co/28t2kNnLAI
Anybody who has ever attended a teleconference can speak to the hurdles presented by the concept. Especially with so many moving pieces, the absence of the traditional war room will make it tricky for team officials to not only communicate with each other but also discuss possible trades with other organizations.
Jason Reid @JReidESPN
Over the past few days, I’ve talked with several sources of mine who work in NFL player personnel. My takeaway is this: The chatter out there about teams being worried about blowing this draft is very, very real.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh also expressed reservations about the level of online security in using a third-party service for video calls.
NBC Sports’ Peter King echoed the sentiment, with one source bringing up the possibility of draft espionage: “As one club executive told me Friday, it’s unnerving to think there’s even a small possibility that one NFL team with a smart IT person could figure how to hack another team’s Zoom sessions on draft night.”
Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff wondered if the NFL would allow for teams to have extra time in getting their picks in, should personnel experience technical difficulties, per Kelly Price of Fox 5 Sports in Atlanta.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the league considered the idea but ultimately decided against it:
Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo
From @NFLTotalAccess: The NFL considered timeouts if teams experienced technical issues during the draft but decided they weren’t necessary. The draft will have its usual flow. https://t.co/R50SfE0AKP
Even before the NFL unveiled the virtual format, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini reported a general manager subcommittee had recommended postponing the event.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of almost every major pro day and left teams unable to do in-person evaluations of prospects after the NFL Scouting Combine.
A mock draft would at least allow for coaches and front-office members to work out any issues they might be experiencing and get a feel for the new process.