Three months ago, in a different world, artist renderings emerged for the 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas that featured a stage in the fountain of the Bellagio hotel and a ferry to carry players to that stage after getting picked.
Instead, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that has brought sports to a halt across the world, the NFL will hold a virtual draft that represents the most significant moment for American sports in the last five weeks.
It will certainly look different than drafts in the past — commissioner Roger Goodell will announce the selections from his home in New York made by teams in their own homes with live video feeds from the top 58 prospects in their own homes.
With the draft happening remotely, the players will look different than normal, as this year’s casual dress code simply focuses on making sure that players don’t display logos of apparel brands other than Nike or express any messages that would embarrass the league.
No suits, for better or worse, and a collection of players who haven’t been able to go to a barbershop for weeks. It will be like they’re all bloggers.
For the Texas Longhorns, there may once again be a significant weight until the first player gets selected. Wide receiver Collin Johnson, wide receiver Devin Duvernay, and safety Brandon Jones are all sure bets to be selected at some point during the seven rounds, with defensive end Malcolm Roach a strong possibility to join them, but the final CBSSports.com mock draft has Jones coming off the board in the third round. That mock draft also has Johnson in the fourth round, Duvernay in the fifth round, and Roach as a seventh-round selection. While the expectation from CBS is that center Zach Shackelford will also be a seventh-round selection, he’s low enough on the board as the 245th pick that he may end up as a priority free agent.
So expect this year’s draft to continue the Texas streak of failing to produce first-round draft picks to five years, the longest drought for the Horns since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970 and the longest since a seven-year streak ended in 1964. Even Houston, Texas Tech, and UTSA have produced first-round draft picks during that time.
Even though that’s yet another sobering development for a program that just suffered through one of the most difficult decades in school history, at least there’s some sports, right?
How to watch
Dates: Thursday (Round 1), Friday (Rounds 2-3), Saturday (Rounds 4-7)
Times: Thursday 7 p.m. Central, Friday 6 p.m. Central, Saturday 11 a.m. Central
Television: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network
Streaming: WatchESPN, NFL Mobile app