Ex-Patriots Scout Explains One Big Problem With Virtual NFL Draft


Apr 8, 2020

With all team facilities closed and large gatherings banned in most states to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL will hold its first — and, the league surely hopes, only — virtual draft later this month.

In addition to the various technical issues that could arise as decision-makers engage in potentially franchise-altering conversations over video chat, Jim Nagy pointed out another way the online nature of this draft will complicate matters for NFL teams.

Nagy, a former New England Patriots scout who now runs the Senior Bowl, explained Wednesday on Twitter that this year’s disparate setup will exacerbate the already chaotic process of teams scrambling to fill out their 90-man rosters with undrafted free agents after the draft concludes.

Most undrafted players who sign with teams do so within hours or even minutes of the final pick, and the inability of teams to have all of their scouts and assistant coaches congregated in one location will make coordinating these signings exponentially more difficult, Nagy said.

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Nagy also backed Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert’s proposal to expand this year’s draft from seven rounds to 10, believing it would go a long way toward easing UFDA-related stress. It’s unclear whether the NFL would consider such a change.

Draft-room issues aside, the league’s coronavirus precautions already have made identifying potential late-round or undrafted targets much trickier.

The majority of college pro days were canceled, resulting in incomplete athletic profiles for most players who either weren’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine or didn’t participate in combine drills, and teams are prohibited from meeting with or working out prospects. All pre-draft contact between teams and players must take place over phone or video calls.

Traditionally, the Patriots have been one of the NFL’s best teams at unearthing undrafted gems. At least one undrafted player has made their initial 53-man roster in each of the last 16 seasons, the third-longest streak behind the Los Angeles Chargers (23 seasons) and Indianapolis Colts (21).

That list includes the likes of Malcolm Butler, David Andrews, Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson, Adam Butler, Brandon Bolden, Ryan Allen, Jacob Hollister and Brian Hoyer. Receivers Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski both made the teams as UDFAs in 2019.

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Thumbnail photo via Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (center), former wide receiver Antonio Brown (right) and running back Sony Michel (left)
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