The 2020 NFL Draft is now less than a week away, though this year obviously has a different feel than any other. The NFL had plans of a spectacular show in Vegas with players traveling by boat to meet Commissioner Roger Goodell. Instead, players, coaches, general managers and even Goodell himself will be staying home, “Zoom”ing pick announcements and interviews while fans follow along at home. If nothing else, this will be memorable.
The virus and subsequent required quarantine have resulted in pro days, player visits, medical checks and more being canceled, so it can be assumed teams are entering the Draft with less information than normal. That could result in many surprising selections, teams drafting players in their geographical area, fewer trades, players with medical questions falling and small school or non-Combine invitees simply going undrafted. We can’t even predict all of the ripple effects at this time.
The circumstances of this year have many analysts previewing the NFL Draft in unique ways and I want to focus on two of those. While each of these is typically discussed each year, they seem more important in this year in which so much information is missing.
Team Rookie Visits
While NFL teams were unable to conduct the normal visits in which they would bring prospects to their facilities, teams have still had contact with players thanks to the Shrine Game, Senior Bowl, Combine and private “workouts” in recent weeks, conducted virtually.
Addison Hayes recently compiled all of this data and shared it via Twitter. His findings were quite interesting.
Team rookie visits by position for the 2020 NFL Draft (https://t.co/zfSB2BWvoQ).
These visits could have been as earlier as the Shrine game/Senior Bowl or as recent as virtual meetings or private workouts.
— Addison Hayes (@amazehayes_) April 13, 2020
This data can be used as a gauge of just how focused teams are on certain positions. Three teams conducted four visits with quarterbacks, including the Buccaneers, Chargers and Patriots. Teams with three visits included some surprises, namely the Giants, Falcons and Packers.
Only three teams held more than five running back visits, but each of those teams far exceeded that number. The Falcons, who released veteran RB Devonta Freeman last month, had 12 RB visits while the Buccaneers and Texans each hosted eleven visits. The Bengals and Cowboys must be very confident in their current backfield as they were the only teams with no running back contacts.
Four teams seem clearly focused on receivers. The Patriots, who spent a first-round pick on WR N’Keal Harry last year, led the way with 12 visits with division rival Buffalo next at 11 points of contact. NFC East foes New York and Philadelphia each visited with 10 receivers. Considering the depth required at the position, it is a surprise to see the Browns and Rams each with no wide receiver visits.
Finally, the Patriots were the only team to contact more than three tight ends as they lapped the league with six. They are still looking to fill the hole left by future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski.
It doesn’t matter which players teams are meeting with if they don’t have the necessary picks. The term draft capital is typically thrown around regarding individual players and in which area of the draft they are selected. This time though, it is referring to each NFL team and what picks they possess, entering the draft.
Graham Barfield recently compiled a unique view of each team’s total draft capital, based on how many picks they own in each portion of the draft.
2020 NFL Draft Capital by team: pic.twitter.com/iPF2w9Sf9x
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) April 14, 2020
It is no surprise that the Dolphins are draft capital kings after the spent the past year accumulating picks with this draft class in mind. They are followed by the Bengals, Lions, Jaguars and Redskins, based on draft capital, or total value of their respective picks.
The Dolphins also have the quantity with 14 total picks. The Jaguars, Vikings and Patriots each own 12 picks, while the Lions, Packers and Giants own ten picks apiece.
According to Graham, five teams have a total draft capital of under 1,000, including the Bills, Bears, Saints, Steelers and, of course, the Texans. Surprisingly, a whopping seven teams have just one selection in the first two rounds of the draft. Miami owns five such picks.