Pandemic Wreaking Havoc on Teams’ NFL Draft Preparations
The NFL coaches and GMs wanted the NFL Draft pushed back due to the impacts of the COVID-19
pandemic. Commissioner Goodell and the Players Association kept the draft as scheduled. With major
changes. Goodell didn’t want to pass on the exclusive opportunity to have the draft conducted while we
sports fans are starved for any type of programming. Prime time exclusive limelight!
This decision, combined with the decision to close all team facilities, is wreaking havoc on the teams
ability to prepare for the draft. Gone are the 30 Visits each team gets to bring prospects in for
workouts, interviews and medical checks. Gone are the Pro Days where scouts got a 2nd chance to
review or validate performances at the Combine. Worse off, those prospects that didn’t get invited to
the combine. This was their opportunity to shine. No private workouts by members of the coaching
According to Albert Breer of SI.com, teams will be heavily relying on the work their college scouts have
done. The boots on the ground, checking the backgrounds, talking to trainers etc. Teams that have built
up relationships with College coaches will have a huge advantage. A phone call here and there to verify
info or questions they have about a player will be invaluable.
Those 30 visits are now being replaced by video interviews. They are using Zoom (I didn’t even know
what Zoom was three weeks ago) to conduct these now. Each team can have three 1 hour video chats
with prospect per week. Some teams have had over 100, and others are just starting.
How do they build their Draft Boards if they can’t sit around a room and discuss prospects? Video
conferencing can only go so far. They can’t pull up a video and dissect the performance. The Patriots,
can operate without because of the extensive scouting they do and the rigid system they use to grade
prospects. This group has been doing it this way for 21 years. A lot of these other teams and head
coaches/ GMs are on the hotseat and don’t have the luxury of being established like BB and the Patriots.
Their decisions are made for the present to keep their jobs. According to Michael Holly’s War Room
about the Patriots drafting, the Patriots will only have 6-7 people (excluding the owner) in their draft
room. No scouts … their work is done when the team sets the Draft Board. The Patriots Draft Board
only has 75 or so names on it. Ernie Adams will be calculating the trade chart values, Nick Caserio, Josh
McDaniel, Bob and Jonathan Kraft, Monti Ossenfort, Dave Ziegler and Brian Smith will likely be it.
Some will be working the phones for trades, others will pull up the latest college scouting reports.
Another area of concern is Information Technology. Every team has sophisticated IT systems in their
buildings but now these video conferences must be conducted on home systems. I don’t care how fast
your High Speed Internet is, it doesn’t have the capacity for viewing these large video files and conduct
the video conference too.
The last point I want to talk about is a point brought up by Greg Bedard of Boston Sports Journal. He
talks about the Patriots punting this draft for two reasons. First, the uncertainty of those Day 3
selections. The Patriots may not have had sufficient data on these players (ie; Ben Bartch OT St John
(MN) Dlll who had a knee injury and didn’t participate in the on field drills at the combine). Brdard
thinks there is only 4-5 spots available on the roster as its currently constituted. I think that’s wrong.
It’s probably more like 7-10 spots when you delete players like Dietrich Wise, Mohammed Sanu, Rex
Burkhead, Marcus Cannon and Patrick Chung. Wise because of his ability and the last four because of
salary cap issues (they may be retained if willing to take a pay cut and re-do their contracts). Some feel
teams will only concentrate on the 1 st four rounds and punt the rest into next year. However, you must
find trade partners to do that. BB likes to move up and down the draft board to take players he likes.
He may not be able to do that this year. Who in the league is going to want to help the Patriots, with
chance to step on their necks in what might be considered a down or re-building year.
The Draft is always unpredictable, but this year might just be the craziest!
Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Draft