What Happens To The 2021 NFL Draft If There's No 2020 NFL Season?

Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

What Happens To The 2021 NFL Draft If There's No 2020 NFL Season?

2020 NFL Draft

What Happens To The 2021 NFL Draft If There's No 2020 NFL Season?

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How do you prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft if you don’t know if there will even be a season? Even harder, what will the 2021 NFL Draft look like if there’s no 2020 season?


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All apologies in advance – this is one of those only-questions-no-answers things, because I have no earthly clue what the best possible solution is.

And I really, really hope this is a wasted theoretical exercise.

Work with me here.

The 2020 NFL Draft is just fine. Cincinnati takes Joe Burrow, Washington does whatever it’s going to do at the two, and we all love every moment of a sports event that actually matters.

And then …

Hypothetically, the doomsday scenario happens and there’s no 2020 NFL season.

Of course we all want football as long as it’s safe – with safe being loosely defined as everyone on the field being confirmed negative for the coronavirus – but how do you practice, train, travel, play, etc. without testing everyone daily, and on and on and on with all of the practical and logistical issues?

For now, at least consider the possibility that all of a sudden it’s July, and 345 Park Avenue doesn’t have it. After brainstorming every plan and idea, the NFL can’t find a way to make it work for 2020.

What happens to the 2021 NFL Draft?

You can’t just cancel it.


CFN in 60: Why You Don’t Take A QB Early


Eligible college players will be ready to make the jump, NFL teams have contracts to deal with, free agency will still happen, players will get older, some will retire – you need to have a 2021 draft.

Do you keep the same draft order from 2020? Good luck selling THAT to teams picking late in the 2020 first round.

Do you come up with some sort of lottery for just the top ten picks? Again, have fun getting Kansas City, San Francisco and Green Bay to be on board, and have an even better time convincing Cincinnati, Washington and Detroit to give up their prime positions when they don’t have anything on the field to go off of.

Do you create a tiered lottery with teams without a 2020 first rounder getting their slots back for 2021? Maybe teams keep their 2020 positions with picks 1-5 all in Tier 1, teams 6-12 in Tier 2, and on from there.

What the hell do you do with conditional picks, or worse yet, traded first round picks? Miami gets Houston’s 2021 first rounder, Jacksonville has the Rams’ first, and don’t even start with all the past trades that kick in along with whatever deals come from the 2020 draft.

It would be the mess of all messes to get the 32 owners as well as the Players Association to agree on how it to do something that’s fair to everyone.

But NFL teams had better have a plan in place for every possibility.

If you’re a pragmatic NFL general manager worth your paycheck, how do you draft this weekend without having an answer to one key question?

If you were told right now that there isn’t going to be a 2020 season, would you change anything about your draft strategy?

Do you move heaven and earth now to trade up to grab a quarterback early, knowing you might have a free year to develop your guy?

Do you move heaven and earth now to trade up to grab Tua Tagovailoa, rolling the dice that you might get a full 12 months or more to let his hip get even better?

Do you plan your draft around positions that are fine for this season, but will be an issue next year once contracts expire or change? GMs do that no matter what, but maybe a player currently on a roster is more valuable to sign back up if he has a year off. Maybe he’s easier to let go because he’ll be a year older and you see strength at the position around your 2020 slot in the 2021 draft.

Try this out.

Cincinnati takes Joe Burrow with the first pick on Thursday night. There’s no 2020 NFL or college football season, and with the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select … Trevor Lawrence.

Welcome to the mother of all trade talk scenarios – and a dream for sports media everywhere.

Does Washington take a massive home run swing and trade Dwayne Haskins for a whole lot of prime picks/players now, thinking there might be a shot at Lawrence or Justin Fields if the same draft positions hold for a 2021 draft without a 2020 season?

Or will teams simply go full steam ahead and not even entertain the possibility of there not being a season?

Do your draft, don’t get caught up in hypotheticals, the future will take care of itself, take one game and draft pick at a time, and …

This is going to be the weirdest NFL Draft ever.

Let’s just hope it’s not topped in 2021.

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