The NFL received plenty of criticism from those outside observers and even those around the league when it decided to hold the 2020 NFL Draft as scheduled and make it a fully-virtual experience. Now with the NFL Draft in the books, the decision could bring positive changes that will last for years.
Multiple general managers and executives around the league came out of the virtual 2020 NFL Draft with a positive experience. General managers felt like they weren’t talked off players they loved by scouts that would normally be in the room, per Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson. Furthermore, team executives suggested they may incorporate virtual work into their day-to-day operations in the future, per NFL Media’s Jim Trotter.
Before the NFL Draft began, teams feared trades would be impacted by virtual communication and that hacking put organizations at risk in critical moments. It’s exactly why the NFL conducted a mock draft days before the 2020 NFL Draft, allowing teams to practice their procedures and get familiar with the process of drafting from home.
A virtual pre-draft and draft process opened the eyes of NFL general managers to what they can accomplish away from work. Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn admitted that he would likely change his work-life balance during the spring. The feeling that more work can be done from home seems to be shared by his peers as they all learn that more efficient ways exist for them to communicate.
As long as mass gatherings are allowed, the 2021 NFL Draft will be held with thousands of fans in attendance in Cleveland, Ohio. However, the work that leads up to next year’s draft will likely be done far differently than we’ve seen in previous years. The NFL handled the COVID-19 pandemic better than anyone could have hoped for and now it might have shaped the league for the better moving forward.