We are in an unprecedented time amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic, the effects of which we will be feeling for quite some time. It’s impact on the NFL has already been significant with free agency and the restrictions placed on NFL clubs. Given that pro days have been cancelled, teams can’t bring prospects in for one on on visits and medical staffs can’t evaluate any red flags or question marks, I’m willing to bet GM’s feel a bit like they will be drafting partially blindfolded. The information simply isn’t complete for teams making decisions that will ultimately decide if the same staff is still employed this time next year.
The thought here is that the trade market during the draft, particularly on day two, is going to be record setting. Teams will aggressively maneuver in an attempt to land as many of their targets as possible. Prospects who’s evaluations are finished and clean are going to benefit from all the chaos ongoing. This will in turn lead to more need based draft picks as teams are more likely to have in depth evaluations and a higher comfort level with prospects at positions of need. In a sense, it will be difficult to consider any selection a reach or shock due to the circumstances. General Managers will likely have a green light to take whoever, whenever. Expect a flurry of activity as teams target guys in rounds 2-3, and it won’t slow down much on day 3 either.
Perhaps the biggest potential impact is prospects with medical flags. Making a multi-million dollar investment into a prospect who medically can’t compete would be an uncomfortable conversation to have with the people who sign their paycheck. Some very talented prospects like Bryce Hall, Lucas Niang, and even perhaps Tua Tagovailoa may see their draft slot severely impacted as teams err on the side of caution. If nothing else, there will be some excellent value picks available for those teams willing to take on a bit of risk.
Overall, I expect the draft to be unpredictable and questioned by many outside observers. There are plenty of people who think this draft should be postponed, but I’m not one. I have faith that the technology will still make the experience smooth and enjoyable to see unfold. I feel sorry for the injury flagged and small school prospects who will not get the same opportunity through no fault of their own. I’m curious to see some GM’s decision making without a room full of trusted scouts and advisers. More than anything, I’m looking forward to the excitement that comes with the NFL Draft. For 3 days, we will have sports again. So regardless of whether there are hiccups in coverage due to technology, or which guys get picked earlier or later than I expect, I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.