NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced last month that the NFL would cancel its 2020 in-person draft event and switch to a virtual setting. The NFL joins a multitude of other sports leagues in canceling live events with large crowds in observance of nation-wide social distancing orders.
While the logistics of the event are not yet set in stone, the league has said it’s currently looking into “innovative options for how the process will be conducted and will provide that information as it becomes available.”
The NFL has also prohibited pre-draft visits — prospects being invited to team facilities — due to the COVID-19 crisis. NFL teams have been forced to replace such visits with phone and video calls as teams’ vetting procedures adjust to new realities.
While draft prospects also face an unorthodox draft procedure, this year’s draft is still expected to draw large viewership numbers. Last year’s draft was the most watched draft in league history and with millions of NFL fans now stuck at home, it’d be no surprise if those figures are surpassed.
This year’s prospects should have a lot to do with that possibility. Many NFL pundits have highlighted this year’s star-studded wide receiver group, but it also includes LSU signal-caller Joe Burrow, who led his team to a successful 2020 National Championship campaign. Atop the list of college superstars rests edge rusher, Chase Young out of Ohio State.
Likely the number one overall pick to-be, his prospect profile calls him “Loose, fluid, agile, aggressive and explosive,” which accurately sums up his game-breaking ability as a gifted pass rusher. Young finished his career at Ohio states with 30.5 sacks, second all-time in school behind Mike Vrabel, now the Titans head coach.
Headlining a packed wideout group are Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs III. Coming out of Alabama, Jeudy is the top route-runner of his class, with pundits highlighting his technical proficiency, as well as his top speed in comparison with his peers. Oklahoma phenom, CeeDee Lamb enters the draft as the top big-play talent. Lamb is described as one of the more looser, improvisational players who tends to do more after the catch. Ruggs III, also out of Alabama, boasts kick-returner speed and could spell trouble for NFL safeties with his game-changing speed, as well his disciplined and sharp route-running ability.
In terms of defensive backfield talent, linebacker Isaiah Simmons will be a matchup nightmare for NFL offenses. Lauded as a hybrid talent, Simmons shows extreme proficiency as a corner, safety and linebacker. Simmons is a defensive coordinator’s best friend, with his versatility allowing for more creative playcalling, as well as blitz packages.
The 2020 NFL Draft is set to take place April 23-25 as a televised-only event.