Apr 23, 2020 - Sports

The NFL draft goes virtual amid coronavirus pandemic

An illustration of a football helmet being clicked on.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

This year's NFL draft was set to be its biggest spectacle yet, held on The Strip in Las Vegas, with players being transported by boat to the red-carpet stage in the middle of the Bellagio Hotel fountains.

Yes, but: Instead, it will — like most things in our lives these days — be held virtually, with commissioner Roger Goodell announcing selections from his basement and players being shown at home via remote cameras.

Mock draft:

  1. Bengals: QB Joe Burrow, LSU
  2. Redskins: DE Chase Young, Ohio State
  3. Lions: CB Jeff Okuda, Ohio State
  4. Giants: OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
  5. Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
  6. Chargers: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
  7. Panthers: LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
  8. Cardinals: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
  9. Jaguars: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn
  10. Browns: OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama

What to watch: The NFL plans to show small draft parties for 58 prospects and interview them when their names are called. To accomplish this, the prospects were mailed technology kits with thousands of dollars of video equipment.

  • "The result will be roughly 180 different video feeds, and a lot of technology complications. Dry runs this week have produced mixed results," writes Bloomberg's Eben Novy-Williams.
  • A story worth noting: In a recent draft, one team was eyeing a player and started watching the livestream of his draft party. When they saw a team tell him on the phone that they'd be taking him with their next pick, the first team traded up, ahead of the second team, to draft the player.

How to watch: It will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes and the NFL Network, and can be streamed via the NFL app.

The bottom line: Without the ability to gather in one location with all the top prospects donning expensive suits and thousands of fans screaming their lungs out, this year's draft will lack some of its normal pageantry and energy.

  • But the broadcast will still accommodate plenty of spectacle and could draw more interest than ever before from sports-starved fans.
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