I’ve had concerns about the NFL’s ability to run a remote “virtual” draft without any hitches since it was announced that they would have to cancel the draft festivities in Las Vegas and go remote because of the pandemic. This is not your fantasy football league. This is not dynasty mode of a video game. This is not even 32 GMs on a Discord server with Roger Goodell.
From everything I think I can know about the NFL or organizations in general, we’re talking about thousands of moving parts. Maybe only 100 of those moving parts are really quite critical, maybe half that (I’m thinking GMs, head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators, scouts, Roger Goodell, other NFL executives, tech gurus, and agents at the very least, and they’re all in separate individual locations) but what happens if even one chain in the link breaks on Thursday?
Many of these people have never heard of Reddit, let alone Discord or Zoom or whatever it is that they’ll be using to link up. We must also consider that these are 32 separate operations, doing their best to approach this in the best and most efficient possible way for them, not a cohesive one-league unit that’s been preparing for this moment for months.
They’ll have about six weeks to get all this done and that includes a mock draft involving all 32 teams that the league is running on Monday. Would there be any problems and when would those problems arise?
Apparently the answers to those questions were “Yes” and “Immediately.”
According to Adam Schefter and others, the NFL had an issue with the Cincinnati Bengals at pick one and it continued from there.
Text from a participant on the NFL’s mock draft that started at 1 pm EST. “Mock draft today already technical glitch w Cincinnatis 1st pick!!! Brutal.”— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 20, 2020
Dianna Russini reported that there is a bandwidth problem and it’s been difficult to communicate. Which is going to be a problem, as I anticipated, when hundreds of people have tried to communicate. I mean, I went to a Zoom birthday party on Saturday with 18 people at one point and that was too much.
I’m texting with multiple coaches and GM’s who are on this mock draft call and everybody is saying the same thing which is band width is a problem. There are many communication issues.— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) April 20, 2020
Text from a GM during this mock draft “there are early communication issues because 32 of us GMs are on conference call and we didn’t hit mute. Sounds awful”— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) April 20, 2020
Of course, this is why you run a virtual mock draft. Russini then said that things went smoother as the process continued.
"After the start, its running smoothly. Its quiet actually on the call"— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) April 20, 2020
Text from another Head Coach on mock draft.
What are the odds that the NFL gets through Thursday’s first round without any major issues? I would be surprised either way. Can they get through all seven rounds like that though? That would be quite the accomplishment.
The Las Vegas Raiders pick 12th and 19th. In his conference call, GM Mike Mayock said he was even more prepared than a usual general manager because of all the years he spent doing mock drafts and online engagement as an analyst for the NFL Network.