Few events match the level of excitement generated by the NFL Draft.
But in these uncertain and wild times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the anticipation for the draft has reached epic proportions. And that’s especially impressive when you consider the numbers from last year’s event.
The 2019 draft was the most watched and attended in history. Coverage of the three days of the draft on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and NFL Network (plus ESPN and NFL digital properties) averaged 6.1 million viewers. As the Hollywood Reporter noted, that’s up about 11 percent from an average of 5.5 million for the 2018 draft, which was the previous high.
The NFL also said 600,000 people attended the draft in host city Nashville last year across all three days. The Hollywood Reporter noted again, that’s more than twice as many people as the 250,000 who attended the 2018 draft in Philadelphia.
Needless to say, the draft is very popular (thanks, John Madden).
Who's next? 📞#BroncosDraft pic.twitter.com/GqWxrKAcTL
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) April 23, 2020
What will the Denver Broncos do?
For the first time in five years, John Elway and the Denver Broncos have their quarterback.
Drew Lock flashed enough promise in the five games he played to end the 2019 regular season to at least have the starting role for 2020.
That allowed Elway to put most of his free agency focus on the defense, save for the signings of guard Graham Glasgow and running back Melvin Gordon.
The thought being, Elway will buy the defense in free agency and build the offense through the draft.
The wide receiver position has fueled the most speculation for the Broncos. The current odds on who Denver will take in the first round back that up.
Safe bet is receiver
DraftKings and FanDuel both favor the Broncos to take a receiver. FanDuel has Denver at -240, DraftKings at -200.
DraftKings then lists defensive lineman (+400), offensive lineman (+500), and linebacker (+600), while FanDuel has cornerback (+500), defensive lineman (+500), and offensive lineman (+550).
Both DraftKings and FanDuel have the Broncos as the favorites to select Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III at +300. For those who crave seeing Ruggs in Denver, it should be noted FanDuel has given the same odds to the San Francisco 49ers.
Interestingly, DraftKings also has the Broncos as the favorite, at the same odds, to land Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy.
As for Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, FanDuel has Denver at +460 and DraftKings at +600 to select the other consensus top three receiver in this draft.
One player some in Broncos Country have pined for is Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons. This is a longshot, as DraftKings has the odds at +2500. For the Broncos to get Simmons, he would have to fall and Elway would then have to make a move up to get him.
What do the experts say?
In his final mock draft, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has Denver selecting Ruggs.
.@MoveTheSticks’ FINAL Mock Draft
1. CIN: QB Joe Burrow
2. WAS: DE Chase Young
3. DET: CB Jeff Okudah
FULL: https://t.co/skrSc7yaub #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/X2QehaJtLA
— NFL (@NFL) April 23, 2020
For the Broncos to land Ruggs, they may have to trade up to keep the Oakland Raiders from selecting him. Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline reports if Jon Gruden gets his way, the Raiders will take Ruggs.
Denver sports radio host and NFL insider Benjamin Allbright mocked Jeudy to Denver with the No. 15 pick. This mirrors what Colorado Springs Gazette columnist Woody Paige said the Broncos will do: trade up to the No. 8 or 10 pick to select Jeudy.
To the surprise of no one, LSU quarterback Joe Borrow is the favorite to go No. 1 overall. Both DraftKings and FanDuel have him at huge odds, -10000 and -100000, respectively.
Both sportsbooks agree the second-overall pick will be Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young; -2000 for DraftKings and -3000 for FanDuel.
Again, they agree on the third pick being Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah. Whether it’s the Detroit Lions who make that pick remains one of the biggest mysteries early in the draft. Several teams are rumored to be devising a way to get the No. 3 pick from the Lions.
Prospective bettors can also predict the exact order of the players taken in the top three, as well as players taken in the top five and top 10 picks, the second offensive and defensive player drafted, and the first three receivers.
And then there are the fun bets, such as the round in which the first kicker and punter are taken, and, of course, Mr. Irrelevant (the last pick in the draft).
Fans can bet which position Mr. Irrelevant will come from, and both DraftKings and FanDuel have offense as the favorite.
At long last, the rumors and speculation will cease.
Fans will know who is pegged to lead their teams into the future.
In normal times, the draft is one of the most popular events in the sports world.
With the added uncertainty due to the coronavirus, the draft is the first real break from reality for a lot of people, and they’re ready for this distraction.
When does the NFL Draft start?
The 2020 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 23rd and ends on Saturday, April 25th. The seven-round draft is spread out over those three days.
- First Round: Thursday, April 23rd at 6 p.m.
- Second-Third Rounds: Friday, April 24th at 5 p.m.
- Fourth-Seventh Rounds: Saturday, April 25th at 10 a.m.
*All times Mountain Standard Time.
How to watch the 2020 NFL Draft live?
All public events have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The NFL announced weeks ago that they would host the draft virtually at every level. It will be a made-for-TV style event where NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce the picks from his basement after teams make their selections digitally.
- ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio
- NFL Network
The 2020 @NFLDraft is finally here!
LISTEN to the 2020 NFL Draft TONIGHT at 8pm ET, live on @SiriusXMNFL, @Westwood1Sports, and @TuneIn, where you can listen to every pick, hear exclusive interviews with the top prospects and more!
Listen: https://t.co/tJC12SjFM1 pic.twitter.com/qnd3PGXZYS
— NFL (@NFL) April 23, 2020