2020 first-ever virtual NFL Draft proceeds securely


LA Times

The 2020 NFL Draft was the first virtual draft in the history of the NFL. League commissioner Roger Goodell is announcing all draft picks from his house. All general managers, coaches, and draft prospects are tuning in from their homes.

Due to concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Football League (NFL) conducted the 2020 NFL Draft virtually for the first time in the history of the league. Regardless of the new method, the fan following of the draft continued to stay active.

Initially, the draft was going to be held grandly in Las Vegas, the newest home of an NFL team (Raiders). NFL draft prospects were ready to ride boats to the hall when they would hear their names be called by league commissioner Roger Goodell. 

However, the unexpected situation didn’t allow for these plans to be executed. Instead, Goodell placed a TV sign reading “2020 NFL Draft” in his house background and announced the names of players who got drafted.

NFL team coaches and general managers sat at their homes with their respective families and emailed their picks to Goodell once they were on the clock. The bright side of the setting was that team staff rejoiced with their families once their picks were announced.

Even though there was no physical attendance to this virtual draft, the 2020 NFL Draft set all-time records for viewership, which was somewhat expected as there was no option but to watch it at home. More than 15.6 million people watched Round 1 of the NFL Draft on Thursday, Apr. 23. Over 8.2 million people watched Rounds 2 and 3 on Apr. 24. More than 4.2 million people watched Rounds 4-7 on Apr. 25.

Occasionally, the draft even showed large TV screens of NFL fans of different teams and draft prospects celebrating as the draft continued. Of course, the fans were not at a stadium or a hall in Las Vegas but were divided on the screen and cheering from their homes.

Before the drafts, a controversy sparked when NFL coaches and staff were complaining that an online draft can possibly be hacked, which could drastically change the future of the league. Fortunately, the draft did not feature an abnormal number of odd picks to suggest that the draft was hacked by a third party.

Some NFL coaches including Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh expressed further concerns that other teams can gain unwanted access to the playbooks and draft plans of their competitors. However, the NFL claimed that they ran a system test with all 32 teams on the Monday before the draft and that their approach to cybersecurity is “comprehensive and thoughtful”. (Reuters.com)

The first round almost mirrored many mock drafts on popular sports sites such as CBS and NBC. Each team, with the exception of a few (ie, Green Bay Packers drafting quarterback Jordan Love), addressed major needs. Even Green Bay’s infamous pick of Love can be viewed as sensible in a sense that starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ days are numbered due to aging out of his prime. Hence, providing a young quarterback with valuable experience behind a veteran may be good for the future of the franchise.

Overall, the NFL Draft was not normal, but neither are the circumstances. Conducting the NFL Draft virtually provided hope for many sports fans who are eagerly waiting for the return of sporting events during these uncertain times.