Fantasy Football: 2020 Virtual NFL Draft


There’s always a lot of hype leading up to the April 23-25 dates of the NFL drafts as some teams’ fan bases have been looking forward to this before they even played their first game of the season. There are hundreds of college prospects that will be waiting for their name to be called and walk on stage to greet the fans of their new home. The 2020 NFL draft was supposed to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, with a grand stage set in the Fountains of Bellagio and players were going to be transported by boat to the stage, something the NFL had never seen. These plans were eventually scrapped when COVID-19 began to spread more and more throughout the United States. Many fans assumed the draft would just be rescheduled for a later month when it was deemed safe by the government to hold large crowds. However, the NFL came up with a plan that would allow for the draft to remain on the April 23-25 dates and allow for every round to be televised to the entire nation.
The plan the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell came up with is as follows, obviously there will be no fans or players in attendance to greet Goodell at the podium, each of the team’s personnel must remain in their homes and do the draft virtually, and the picks will be submitted through the NFL’s secure Microsoft channel, making the 2020 NFL draft very similar to the Fantasy Football drafts fans hold every year. While fans are happy the draft is still being held on time, most, if not all, of the NFL teams are upset and worried about the virtual draft. Teams are afraid that someone could hack into either their own calls or into the NFL’s channel to make a fake (but realistic) draft selection. In order to make the teams feel a bit more secure, the NFL is setting up safeguards to protect teams from any internet or technology glitches. Other details that have come out about the draft is that Commissioner Goodell will be announcing the first round draft selections from his basement in Bronxville, New York, to all of the fans around the world. Something that was reported by NFL reporter Ian Rappaport, but was never fully confirmed, was that EA Sports was working with the NFL and the college prospects to create virtual player walk-ups and interactions with Roger Goodell. This would only be done for the higher ranked prospects and each prospect that has this done will receive a $2,500 grant that they can give to any high school of their choice.
Many teams are still upset that the draft is being held virtually and that it was just not pushed back. It seems as if the NFL has full intentions to go ahead with this plan. The NFL sees all sports being canceled as an opportunity to draw huge amounts of viewers to the draft, increasing revenue in a time of economic turmoil. While it appears that more wrong than right could happen with the virtual draft, the NFL will not pass up on an opportunity to provide entertainment to its fans and a possible source of revenue. They are taking a big risk however due to possible hacks, owners and teams being greatly angered by the format, and possible glitches that would leave teams and fans in the dark on what is happening.