Since shortly after the N.F.L. draft combine in February, teams have been conducting draft preparations remotely, with some pro days canceled and in-person interviews banned. Some teams, like the Giants, have been interviewing prospects over FaceTime or Skype.
“We’re losing the personal touch points,” said Dave Gettleman, the Giants general manager. “We have the visual touch point, but we’re really missing out on the personal touch point, when you can smell or feel a guy.” As a self-described “old man,” Gettleman, 69, said it was exciting working with the “young guys” on his staff who were thoughtful about using technology.
Kevin Abrams, the Giants assistant general manager, said meetings conducted over the internet haven’t been “perfectly smooth, but it’s been smoother than anyone could have expected.” He will be less excited if things go wrong on draft day and as a result the Giants, who select fourth over all, can’t nab the player they want or complete an advantageous trade.
Over 11 million viewers watched the opening round of the draft last year. With nearly the entire country living under stay-at-home orders and sports fans starved for something, anything, new and consequential, most are predicting the draft will draw record viewership.
Those tuning in will see an N.F.L. draft like no other, a draft shot on low-quality cameras in homes, full of static camera shots and more likely to encounter technical glitches. But perhaps this will also be an N.F.L. draft that feels more organic than the over-the-top, slickly produced extravaganza it has become.
And an unexpected upside to an N.F.L. draft conducted remotely? One notable N.F.L. draft tradition — vociferous booing the first time Goodell walks onto the stage — will be absent.
Unless his wife, children or pets are feeling particularly vicious.
Ben Shpigel contributed reporting.