ESPN’s Ed Werder On Virtual Draft, Cards Early Options

AP Photo/Matt York

The 2020 NFL Draft, which begins Thursday evening, will have a much different look than any we’ve seen dating back to its inception in 1936.

No glitzy Las Vegas setup with several thousands fans in attendance as originally planned.

No Roger Goodell getting booed.

No players walking across a stage in their well-tailored suits and crisp new hat of the team who just selected them.

“This is the most unique draft in NFL history,” long-time ESPN reporter Ed Werder said to Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview Tuesday. “This is sort of the Super Bowl for anyone who might be a hacker in the computer tech world.”

This year less is more when it comes to breaking news during this weekend’s coverage, according to Werder. For example, instead of ESPN tossing to Werder in the field to break a story, he believes it will be more of the network’s insiders (ESPN, ABC and NFL Network will be working together on one production this year) relaying the information to the hosts since nearly all will be working remotely.

He will be covering the Cardinals, Cowboys, Broncos and Seahawks during the three-day event.

“It’s a challenge for me,” he explained. “Our role is sort of supplemental.”

He said the league doesn’t want insiders like Werder “scooping the pick”  before Commissioner Goodell makes it official at the podium. Instead, he will use his platform to have teams explain why they selected said player and thinking behind it after the selection is made.

Further, according to general managers he’s spoken with, the two biggest concerns with the virtual draft are ensuring trades, which happen during the live draft, go smoothly as well as the process of claiming priority undrafted free agents after the seven rounds are concluded.

As for the Cardinals and the eighth pick?

Well, they certainly have options.

“Do they value an offensive tackle to protect the franchise quarterback in Kyler Murray who was sacked an NFL-high 48 times his rookie year,” Werder asked. “Or do they covet a defensive lineman/pass rusher to take some of the attention away from Chandler Jones for a defensive that, despite his 19.5 sacks last year, ranked dead-last in the NFL?”  

Werder believes the Cards would consider trading the pick, if the price was right and they didn’t move too far back into the first round.