2020 NFL ‘Virtual’ Draft – Putting Virtual Events to the Test
The 2020 NFL Draft was set to kickoff tonight from Las Vegas, but due to the coronavirus outbreak, and Stay At Home orders all across the country, the NFL has decided to make a change – to take the draft virtual.
We’ve seen a quick rise in virtual events over the last two months, but I’m not sure any have been the size of the NFL Draft. This will truly test the capabilities of the virtual event technologies in place, and we should learn a lot moving forward.
For people just starting to think about taking their conference or event online, it should be interesting to watch how the NFL handles things. For those who’ve already tried a virtual event, it could be fun to tune in and see how differently this one is executed.
How is the 2020 NFL Draft going to work?
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a memo issued April 6 that all club personnel will need to work separately during the draft.
“Clubs have been advised to prepare to conduct the 2020 draft entirely outside of their facilities and in a fully virtual format, with club personnel in separate locations and able to communicate with one another and Draft headquarters by phone or internet.”
So, don’t expect to see a “War Room,” or the regular conference room filled with scouts, couches, and executives. What we’ll have is Goodell at his home, live streaming the picks, and the teams working together over video conferencing.
We’re not certain how the trade market will look this year, but according to Ian Rapaport, “There is a separate and secure line created for draft trades. Teams will call in and speak on that line to complete trades to have multiple voices on it (GM, assistant GM, etc).”
So what will the virtual draft look like on TV?
If you’ve ever seen the full NFL Draft before, think about what it normally looks like on Day 3, and you’ll probably have a good idea of what this will look like all three days.
On day 3, it’s usually very quiet. There aren’t players coming out to hold up their team jersey or shake Goodell’s hand. You usually just see a panel sitting around discussing the picks as they happen. With this being the first Virtual Draft, they’re top priority is making sure everything runs smoothly.
Bud Light realized one key item that would be missing from this year’s draft, and decided to pitch in to help. You can’t have a draft without spectators booing, and it looks like the tradition will continue virtually.
You’ll still get to see the players react to the picks, but the NFL wants to set a good example, so there will be no more than 10 people in every room, everyone 6+ feet apart, good hand hygiene, and anyone with fever or upper respiratory illness staying away.
“ESPN and NFL Network will combine to offer a singular presentation across both networks,” the league announced. “ABC will present its own distinctive, prime-time telecasts for rounds 1-3, in addition to simulcasting the ESPN and NFL Network telecast of rounds 4-7.
The NFL announced earlier in April that the broadcast will be “Draft-A-Thon.”
“The Draft-A-Thon will deliver much-needed funding to many who are suffering as well as those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Goodell said in a statement. “Conducting this event virtually, and taking all necessary precautions while doing so, underscores the importance of staying home and staying strong during this unprecedented moment in our history.”
The draft, originally scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, runs from April 23-25.