As far as mock drafts go, the one that the NFL and its teams conduct Monday promises to be the least accurate of all.
Representatives of the league office and all 32 franchises are scheduled to participate in a mock draft as a trial run for the remote NFL draft that begins Thursday night, attempting to make certain that everyone is comfortable with the procedures and technology. Teams undoubtedly won’t be tipping their hands by announcing their actual expected selections.
The league has ordered teams’ general managers, coaches and other staffers to work from home during the draft due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The draft is a TV-only event. ESPN and the league-owned NFL Network will produce a joint telecast based at ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Conn. Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce picks from his home in Westchester County, N.Y. The league has made plans for 58 draft-eligible players to participate in the broadcast from their homes.
If there are to be any glitches, the league hopes they’re worked out Monday.
“I think all our clubs are focused on executing on the draft,” Goodell said during an interview Friday with “The Rich Eisen Show” on the NBC Sports Network. “We’ve worked with the technology. I think people are comfortable with the technology, which is important. ... I think we’re doing all we need to do to make sure we do this with a great deal of sensitivity but also make sure that operationally, it comes off well for the clubs.”
Goodell said during Friday’s interview that the NFL is “planning and working toward staying on schedule” for its season in the fall. But he confirmed that the league is mulling contingencies in case that’s not possible.
“That’s why we’re going to be prepared,” Goodell said. “We’re prepared and we’re moving on the basis of making sure we’re ready for the season, and we’ll have to adjust if something in some way interferes with that and it’s in the best interest of public safety.”
Goodell did not comment on the specifics of the NFL’s contingency plans. Multiple people familiar with the league’s planning said earlier this week that a shortened season, games in empty or partially-filled stadiums and relocated or rescheduled games are among possibilities.
“None of us know what the conditions will be a week from now, much less three months from now or six months from now,” Goodell told Eisen. “So we’ll be prepared for all alternatives. That’s what we do, and we’ll make sure we’re ready to adjust. We’re working with all the authorities. ... I think people want to see sports back. We want to do it safely, and we want to do it safely for everybody. And so we’re all working together to make sure we find ways to do that, supporting one another but making sure that we do our part to get the economy going and to get people back in a place where we have some sense of normalcy.”
The NFL is hiring former coach Perry Fewell to a key position in the league office’s officiating department, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Fewell is expected to report directly to Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations. He is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the department and compliance with league policies and the collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Referees Association. He also will communicate with NFL coaches and general managers and the NCAA.
Al Riveron is being retained and is to remain involved with the instant replay system. Former NFL referee Walt Anderson is being added to oversee game officials — everything from training and evaluation to scouting, recruiting and development. The NFL declined to comment. Fewell’s hiring was first reported by ESPN.