NFL: Teams can pause draft clock during technical issues


NFL executives could look like part of a fantasy football league next week when the 2020 NFL Draft goes virtual.

A mock draft is scheduled for Monday to test the technology and communications protocols and processes set forth by the NFL in holding the draft in a virtual environment.

With commissioner Roger Goodell announcing picks from his basement, teams also are working from home and in completely virtual environments, raising questions as to how the league will handle technical challenges during the live event.

The league denied requests to extend the time between picks but will afford team executives the chance to “stop the clock” if technological issues arise.

“Three separate team individuals are able to submit the pick,” the league said in a statement to ESPN. “So if there’s an issue at one person’s house, two other team execs could submit. If a team is experiencing technological issues, the player personnel department would be in position to stop the clock to ensure a pick is submitted or a trade occurs.”

Instead of a mock draft of the 2020 class, general managers will select from a roster of legends. Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said the participants also will practice a few trades to test realities and efficiency of the virtual swaps.

Goodell said the NFL is testing connections and has installed safeguards designed to diffuse concerns about hackers raised by multiple teams.

Typically, if time runs out when one team is on the clock, the next team in line is able to submit its pick — and the next team after that can do the same — without recourse.

It happened most famously in 2003, when the Minnesota Vikings’ 15 minutes expired while they were on the phone with the Baltimore Ravens attempting to work out a trade. Slotted to pick seventh, the Vikings were jumped twice before turning in their card and selecting Oklahoma State defensive tackle Kevin Williams.

The Jacksonville Jaguars moved to No. 7 and drafted Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich and the Carolina Panthers turned in their card quickly to select Utah offensive tackle Jordan Gross before the Vikings were able to get Williams’ name to the NFL.

That was the second year in a row the Vikings botched a card turn-in. In 2002, the Vikings had penciled in the name of North Carolina defensive tackle Ryan Sims, thinking a trade for the No. 6 pick had been completed. But the Kansas City Chiefs jumped ahead of them in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys at No. 6. The Vikings thought they had acquired the sixth pick to take Sims.

Instead, Minnesota drafted Miami offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie.

—Field Level Media