The 2020 NFL draft goes virtual

The 2020 NFL draft occurred from April 23 to April 25, and was the first draft to occur where all players and executives stayed within their respective homes. This was due to the risk of Covid-19 spreading throughout the NFL if the draft was held in its normal public format. Since all live sports have been cancelled, and most television shows are nearing the end of their seasons, the NFL draft was the premier primetime event on the 23rd. For this reason, the first round of the draft drew in an average audience of 15.6 million viewers, which is a 37% increase over the audience average from the 2019 draft. It is also a record for the annual event.

The format earned mostly positive feedback from the fanbase, with a few criticisms that came from fans who missed the usual format of the draft. Brad Whitman, a junior at PHS and a Redskins fan who watched the draft live, found both positive and negative aspects to the format.

  “I both did and did not like this year’s format. I thought it was interesting because I got to learn a little bit more about the players getting drafted, but what I missed was hearing the crowd’s reactions to picks.” Whitman said.

Normally at the NFL draft, there are fans from all across the NFL gathered to see who their team picks, and the cameras are able to catch authentic reactions from fans after their picks are announced. However, since fans were not able to all gather together, the draft focused more on reactions from the players in their respective homes, and telling the viewers a little bit more about the players personal and professional lives.

Another criticism that some fans had about the 2020 draft was the fact that the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell announced almost every pick throughout all 7 rounds of the event. In past seasons, the NFL would have guest speakers come up to the draft stage and announce different picks, but this was not possible this season.

“Having Roger Goodell hosting was not a good move.” Whitman says, “I think they should have had some kind of well-known entertainer host the same way that the Emmys do.”

Although the 2020 draft garnered many viewers with the virtual format, the NFL plans on reverting back to the original draft format once it is safe to do so. If the draft reverts back to its old format, the next 3 cities lined up to host the event are Cleveland in 2021, Las Vegas in 2022, and Kansas City in 2023.

The first three picks in the draft went to Cincinnati, Washington, and Detroit, who selected Joe Burrow (QB), Chase Young (DE), and Jeff Okudah (CB), respectively. As for the most surprising pick, fans agreed that the Green Bay Packers made the most head scratching decision after selecting quarterback Jordan Love with their first round pick. This comes as a surprise to many since they still have Aaron Rodgers, who brought the team one win away from the Super Bowl this past season.