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2020 NFL Draft: How football's virtual draft will work

2020 NFL Draft: How football's virtual draft will work

It hasn't even happened yet, but 2020 NFL Draft will be remembered as one of the most unique drafts of all-time. 

With social distancing measures in place to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the NFL is holding a virtual draft starting April 23, with far less flash than past years and no in-person component.

If you're surprised the draft is still going on as scheduled, you're not alone. And if you're wondering how it will work, here are some answers to a few key questions.

Where will everyone be?

Normally, the top draft picks are waiting for their names to be called at a central location - this draft was supposed to be held Las Vegas - with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, while decision makers from each team are huddled in the same room at their respective team's facility.

This year, almost everyone will be working from home. Goodell will be announcing each pick from the basement of his New York home. A group of 58 players, most expected to be drafted in the first two rounds, will be in their respective homes, with cameras provided for their reactions. All other prospects will also be in their own homes.

Team decision makers like general managers, head coaches, and scouts will also be working from home. Each team, according to ESPN, has been allowed one IT specialist to join the general manager at their house, but otherwise the organizations' top minds will be spread out.

The Eagles, for example, explained this week that general manager Howie Roseman will be in his home, owner Jeffrey Lurie will be in his home, and head coach Doug Pederson will be in his South Jersey home, breaking up a triumvirate that would normally spend draft nights together.

How will the picks work?

Teams will use a secure, slightly modified version of Microsoft's Teams application, a Slack-like central messaging and communications app, according to ESPN.

The league has reportedly been working directly with Microsoft to safeguard the app's security, a step that should in theory help protect sensitive discussions and information from leaking. 

Some general managers expressed concerns about the security of using an online application make picks, especially amid ongoing Zoom bombing efforts around the country. 

The NFL will have staff from multiple departments, including Football Operations and IT, in touch with each team throughout the draft.

When a general manager/front office collective makes a pick, they will communicate the choice to league officials via the Teams application. If anything interferes with communicating via the app, each team will have the ability to call the pick in via phone, or email the pick to the league, according to ESPN.

How you can watch

The draft will be seen on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network, with ESPN handling the production. 

Here’s the full schedule: 

April 23: Round 1 (8-11:30 p.m. ET) 
April 24: Rounds 2-3 (7-11:30 p.m. ET)
April 25: Rounds 4-7 (12-7 p.m. ET) 

All three rounds will be on ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio. And the entire draft will be streamed on NFL and ESPN digital properties.

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Eagles' Jalen Reagor has perfect response for Skip Bayless criticism

Eagles' Jalen Reagor has perfect response for Skip Bayless criticism

Jalen Reagor hasn't yet set foot on a football field wearing midnight green, but the Eagles' first-round pick is already a pro at comebacks.

Professional Talker Skip Bayless popped off about Reagor's (admittedly unexpected) draft slot late last week, making fun of the Eagles for taking Reagor at No. 21 overall.

Here's what Bayless had to say:

I about fell out of my chair over that, for the wrong reason. Jalen Reagor went way higher than any draft expert had mocked him. I'm mocking that pick right now, because I thought it was a silly pick, because there were four, five other receivers I would've taken over Jalen Reagor.

There are, of course, different ways to responds when a person like Bayless (loud, looking for attention) singles out a player.

You can try to argue the points made, and point out that while Reagor going at No. 21 overall may have been a surprise, you'd be hard pressed to name four wideouts who went after Reagor and are widely seen as better players.

Justin Jefferson at No. 22? Fine. Brandon Aiyuk at No. 25 is a pick 'em, as is Tee Higgins at No. 33, and most basically everyone would give Reagor the edge over guys like Laviska Shenault, K.J. Hamler, and Chase Claypool.

You can take the petty angle and remind Bayless, a noted Cowboys fan, which team is the reigning NFC East champion. (It's the Eagles.)

Or you can be Reagor, and simply tell Bayless that you heard what he thinks, and keep it moving:

Nice and subtle. Reagor is keeping a list, but he's unbothered. Perfect.

Something tells me this clip will be re-shared plenty when Reagor scores his first touchdown against the Cowboys.

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How Tom Brady says the Eagles helped create the 'Patriot Way' in New England

How Tom Brady says the Eagles helped create the 'Patriot Way' in New England

ESPN's decision to seize on the success of "The Last Dance" by teasing a similar documentary about Tom Brady has grabbed sports fans' attention, even if the doc doesn't come out until 2021.

And while reliving Brady's greatest accomplishments isn't an ideal way to spend several hours, the way the Eagles are intertwined with Brady's Patriots legacy certainly suggests there will be tons of insights for Philly fans in the final product.

Like, maybe, Brady saying he feels the fabled 'Patriot Way' began because of the Eagles.

Here's the doc's producer Gotham Chopra, talking to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, on the way Brady viewed his time in New England:

CHOPRA: There was something we recently did on that 2004 Super Bowl, where he talked about the culture of that team. All this stuff you hear about Patriot Way, and Do Your Job, stuff that Bill has created over the years, the philosophies, this is the year that really happened.

He’s like, ‘First year, kind of a miracle. The next Super Bowl, O.K., now we’re getting our feel. And that first Eagles Super Bowl, this is where the Patriot Way was born.’

Welp.

Odds are good the Patriots would've been great for the last 15 years no matter what, but it's sort of frustrating to know the Eagles losing to Brady helped, at least in Brady's mind, establish New England's brand of success.

Who knows: If Donovan McNabb & Co. managed to pull out the win, maybe we would've had a very different last 15 years.

One thing Eagles fans can get excited for, at least, is Brady's reaction to losing Super Bowl LII to the Eagles.

It's unclear how much behind-the-scenes stuff we'll see from the game - Chopra said Brady suddenly got cold feet about filming in Minneapolis that week - but It sounds like it really changed him as a person:

CHOPRA: What he told me about that Eagles loss, it was dealing with it as a father, dealing with it as a husband. He was a very different person than with the Giants losses, he had a different perspective that I think poised him for that game. I thought, ‘Wow, it’s really interesting how a guy who’s still at it is learning like that.’ Because he’s like [Michael] Jordan, he’s incomparable. There’s no one else who has that story, has that perspective.

It's so strange to think how, despite playing in a different conference, the Eagles have played a pretty significant role in shaping the way the world sees Brady and the Patriots.

For better, and for worse.

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