In such an unprecedented time like this, the NFL has found a creative solution to the COVID-19 crisis. Instead of dealing with this situation like other sports associations by canceling or postponing its major events, the NFL has decided to continue with the NFL Draft. However, instead of having the usual celebration with an in-person Draft, the NFL has altered the program so that the NFL Draft will be virtual and via Zoom.
This should definitely help the Texans as they will have more time to find trade partners while also assembling a thorough and beneficial trade with other teams, especially if they intend to move down from their second round pick and acquire more picks.
Especially with Bill O’Brien’s negative reputation around the league surrounding his trades, the allowances given by the NFL should enable him to ultimately come out of this draft with success and potentially allow him to change that reputation.
It is a bold move for the NFL to still continue with the draft, and since this is certainly an unprecedented situation, it will be interesting for league officials and fans alike to see how a virtual Draft will turn out.
The online draft experience will have its disadvantages such as difficulty in communication and potential technological errors. However, with an optimistic perspective, there are still some advantages attached to a virtual NFL Draft instead of either having an in-person draft or not having a draft at all.
Higher Viewer Ratings
The channels that broadcast the NFL Draft will have very high viewer ratings compared to normal Draft ratings. Since this world is so devoid of sports, fans around the world will immediately take any invitation to be involved with the sports realm and the NFL Draft is the perfect event for fans during this crisis where many people are stuck with boredom.
ESPN and other services that are streaming this event should experience very high ratings while also providing many fans experience relief as this is the biggest sports event in months.
On the other hand, if the event was canceled by the NFL, it would continue this boring trend of a world without sports. Instead, fans would resort to watching reruns of old football games which isn’t nearly as exciting and interesting as the draft.
By conducting a virtual draft, the NFL will be able to preserve the safety of league officials, players, and thousands of fans who would have otherwise attended the event. Although it is unlikely that this event occurs in person if the draft wasn’t virtual, the NFL made a smart move in shifting the conditions of this event as a large gathering could have worsened the pandemic and led to thousands of preventable infections and hundreds of preventable deaths.
As for the Texans, O'Brien and his staff have been working out of his back yard of his residence in Houston. Adhering to the Harris County social distancing plan in place, the meeting has taken place planning for the NFL Draft across the table or the street according to O'Brien.
Additionally, a virtual draft completely prevents any possibility of people being put at risk of being infected with COVID-19. Aside from player draft parties, there is little physical interaction between people through this online draft, inhibiting the spread of the disease.
Allowances by the NFL
Due to these unforeseen circumstances, it has been known that the NFL will be giving teams some allowances if they intend on trading. As seen in the tweet below, the NFL will supposedly “stop the clock” for teams if they go beyond the time allotted so that they can completely process all trades.
This will afford many teams some extra time to finalize trades without rushing through it, which has happened in the past. It is relieving to many teams that the NFL is giving them some allowances and leeway as they understand that technical problems can potentially hinder teams in the draft process.