In a time where live sports events and news is at an all-time low, more eyes than ever have been on the 2020 NFL Draft, which begins at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 23rd, and will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN, and NFL Network. There will be plenty of local storylines to follow, from former St. John’s players, to DMV college stars, to Washington drafting a native Marylander.
There are two Cadet alumni who hope to get drafted this year, the most notable being Alabama outside linebacker Terrell Lewis, who graduated from St. John’s in 2016 as Terrell Hall before changing his last name in 2017. After a modest freshman season, he tore an elbow ligament in his first game as a sophomore. He missed most of the 2017 season, returning for the final four games and making his first start in the Tide’s ultimately victorious 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship. The following summer, he tore his ACL and was forced to take a medical redshirt year. In his junior year, he recorded 31 tackles, 11.5 for loss and 6.0 as sacks, was named to the all-SEC second team, and played in the 2020 Senior Bowl.
Lewis, expected to be a second- or third-round pick based on his play, may fall lower after an article released Monday by Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline reported that nearly half of the league medically failed Lewis. This means that these teams believe Lewis would not be immediately eligible to play, making his selection a gamble on his ability to recover.
The other notable St. John’s alumnus is Scotty Washington, a wide receiver from the Class of 2015. In four years with Wake Forest, Washington tallied 13 touchdowns and 1,676 receiving yards across 33 games. He led the 2019 Demon Deacons in receiving yards per reception, the sixth-most in school history. Unfortunately, he suffered an ankle injury this past November that ended his collegiate career; however, he played in the 2020 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and participated in Wake Forest’s Pro Day, a good sign in his recovery. If drafted, he is expected to go in the 7th round.
Outside of Military Road, local colleges have produced some possible NFL players who have unfortunately been held back by injury concerns. University of Maryland running back Anthony McFarland and cornerback Tino Ellis both held high draft stock before a broken leg and torn pectoral respectively, while Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall’s recovery from a season-ending ankle injury has dropped his expected pick by Bleacher Report by fifty spots.
UVA quarterback Bryce Perkins had a dynamic senior season, and Navy QB Malcolm Perry was hoping to shine at Navy’s Pro Day and private team combines. However, after the cancellation of those events due to the coronavirus, Perry and Perkins are likely to fall behind a stellar quarterback class which includes Heisman winner Joe Burrow from LSU and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
With the second overall pick, Washington is expected to draft Ohio State defensive end and 2019-20 Heisman nominee Chase Young. Young, who graduated from DeMatha in 2017, recorded 30.5 sacks in three seasons with the Buckeyes, the second all-time for Ohio State, and broke the school’s single-season sack record with 16.5. He received the top defensive awards in the country, including the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award.
Due to quarantine restrictions, the league has had to change its draft format. Originally, the draft was planned to occur on a floating platform in a fountain in front of the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas, but now, teams will electronically communicate their picks to the league from their homes. Team officials will have the standard time to submit their picks – ten minutes in the first round – but should there be any technical difficulties, league officials would stop the clock and allow teams to submit their choice.
With the extended coverage, ESPN is hoping to take a deeper look at the stories behind the picks. On Thursday and Friday, ABC will focus on the stories of each player and how they got to the league, while the other broadcasts offer traditional coverage. The second and third rounds will start at 7 p.m. on Friday, and rounds 4-7 will begin at noon on Saturday.
Many concerns have been raised over the technology being incorporated into the draft, from security concerns to the possibility of glitches in a live, timed environment. After Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh suggested concerns over the security of the draft, the league’s executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent responded during an interview with Baltimore’s 105.7FM radio by saying, “Coach Harbaugh, no one is going to hack into your system. Stop it.”
Others have questioned the decision to hold the draft on the original date, rather than postpone and allow teams to undergo medical testing. Teams already have had to change their recruiting methods, using limited Facetime calls to talk to prospects under league monitoring. However, commissioner Roger Goodell is hoping this will give the sports community a sense of normalcy and hope for the future. Goodell said in an interview that having league business as usual could “show people that there is a future out there and that we’re all going to be a part of it.”