The COVID-19 pandemic is creating all sorts of new challenges for teams as they prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft. Given these unusual circumstances and limitations in scouting players, could it make this a year where teams would be better off packaging their draft picks and trading up into higher spots?
While the traditional philosophy has always been to try and get more picks by trading down or trading away veteran players, 2020 is giving teams less opportunities to evaluate talent. College Pro Days were mostly cancelled and interviews are having to be done over the internet.
Granted, everyone is in the same boat. And while this may not be a major deterrent with the star players who go in the early rounds, what about small-school prospects and others that you just never got a chance to get a good look at?
If there’s less familiarity or certainty with prospects in the middle and later rounds of the draft, teams could easily be more motivated to try and use those picks to move up in Rounds 1-3.
The Cowboys are one team that hasn’t been afraid to trade up in the modern era. They did in 2012 to get Morris Claiborne and again in 2014 for DeMarcus Lawrence.
Depending on how Dallas feels about their current talent and their comfort level with the 2020 rookie class, I could easily see them looking to move up at various points in this draft. Other than a few specific needs at WR and CB they have solid depth across the board after their free agency activity.
Perhaps I am underestimating how much evaluation work has been hindered during the current health crisis, or overrating how much teams base their decisions on what happens between February and April. After all, we got a full college football season and the Scouting Combine came and went before COVID-19 started shutting things down.
Still, with the typical evaluation process being hindered in some ways, I can’t help but wonder if it will cause teams to be less clingy to their middle and late-round picks. If so, it could mean a very active trade market during the 2020 NFL Draft.