Despite the NFL itself being on shutdown, the league's annual draft remains on the calendar and is set to get underway April 23.
The coronavirus pandemic has seen the logistics surrounding the 2020 draft change significantly. The live event, scheduled to take place in Las Vegas has been canceled, and NFL front offices will conduct business remotely via a conference call and other internet tools, per ESPN's Dan Graziano.
However, nothing about the literal picking of players will be different, and fans should be just as excited as usual for the arrival of new talent.
For the 11th consecutive year, the draft will take place over three nights.
The first round will be held on the evening of April 23, Rounds 2 and 3 occur on the evening of April 24 and the rest of the draft—Rounds 4-7—will take up the afternoon and night of April 25.
The Miami Dolphins lead the way with 14 overall draft picks, while six other teams—including the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers—have at least 10 selections. The New Orleans Saints and Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs bring up the rear with just five picks apiece.
1. Cincinnati Bengals
3. Detroit Lions
4. New York Giants
5. Miami Dolphins
6. Los Angeles Chargers
7. Carolina Panthers
8. Arizona Cardinals
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
10. Cleveland Browns
11. New York Jets
12. Las Vegas Raiders
13. San Francisco 49ers (via IND)
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
15. Denver Broncos
16. Atlanta Falcons
17. Dallas Cowboys
18. Miami Dolphins (via PIT)
19. Las Vegas Raiders (via CHI)
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR)
21. Philadelphia Eagles
22. Minnesota Vikings (via BUF)
23. New England Patriots
24. New Orleans Saints
25. Minnesota Vikings
26. Miami Dolphins (via HOU)
27. Seattle Seahawks
28. Baltimore Ravens
29. Tennessee Titans
30. Green Bay Packers
31. San Francisco 49ers
32. Kansas City Chiefs
As is the case in most years, the lead-up to the draft is seeing an exponential increase in rumors, though this year's gossip seems unusually concentrated towards the top of the draft.
For instance, per Yahoo Sports' Terez Paylor, new Washington head coach Ron Rivera gave strong hints that his team will be staying in its draft position and selecting Ohio State defensive end Chase Young with the second overall pick. Young is widely considered a top-two prospect, so much so that, per Ian Rapaport of NFL.com, only the top three teams—the Cincinnati Bengals, Washington and the Detroit Lions—have met with him.
Another notable rumor has arisen out of one of the 2020 offseason's main hubs: Miami.
After a year of Dolphins fans preparing for the arrival of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, it appears that the team may overlook him. Per Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, Miami is skeptical of Tua and may prefer Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert instead. Whether that caution is driven by Tagovailoa's health or on-field concerns has been left unsaid, but it would be mildly surprising if GM Chris Grier goes with Herbert over Tua.
Finally, for another Tua rumor, we turn to one of Miami's AFC East rivals: the New England Patriots.
For the first time in 20 years, the Patriots are needy at the most important position on the field. Their quarterback depth chart consists of Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer, and Bill Belichick is reportedly unwilling to sign a stopgap veteran because of the team's lack of cap space. However, drafting a rookie signal-caller would not be nearly as problematic in this way, and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe has been predicting a potential Patriots trade-up for Tua in recent days. Most recently, he wrote:
"The Lions are expected to be open for business with that No. 3 pick, with a coach and GM who are on the hottest of hot seats for 2020, and aren't in the market to use a top pick on a quarterback coming off a major injury.
"And that opens the door for the Patriots. [General manager Bob] Quinn spent 16 years in Foxborough, and [head coach Matt] Patricia 14. Since Quinn became Lions GM in 2016, the Patriots and Lions have made four player trades (including Kyle Van Noy in 2016 and Duron Harmon two weeks ago), and three draft-day trades. Belichick and Patricia still vacation together. And who knows? If Quinn and Patricia are fired after 2020, maybe they end up back in Foxborough."
With New England potentially nearing a rebuilding phase, it would be odd for Belichick to offer up draft picks, especially when he popularized trading down in recent years. But Darth Hoodie obviously has a track record in quarterback evaluation, drafting Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, so if he sees the right stuff in Tua and wants to groom him as Brady's successor, who are we to judge?
Let's not get preemptively upset. But if New England ends up with someone many considered the best quarterback in the draft before the 2019 season and his hip injury, then its dynasty may be far from over.