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The NFL Draft Is Tonight. Could The Future Of The Dolphins Hang On A Phone Call?

Miami Herald
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is reportedly hosting the draft virtually from his man cave.

There is no way of knowing if there will be a football season come August because of the coronavirus.

One thing we do know, there will be a draft and the Miami Dolphins could make a call that changes their fortunes for years to come. 

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One thing we do know, there will be a draft and the Miami Dolphins could make a call that changes their fortunes for years to come. We spoke with Dolphins reporter Adam Beasley about who the team might pick. We started by asking what he's hearing from the league about the possibility that the season could be canceled.

BEASLEY: You'll be shocked to hear this, but the NFL and the players union aren't exactly on the same page when it comes to this. They're never on the same page, it seems. But the NFL is planning as if the season is going to start in early September. The players union is like, whoa! Pump the brakes here. We hope it's going to start then. But let's let's see how this thing develops. And there's a lot of unknowns right now. We just don't know what the disease is going to look like in four months when training camps will be revving up. I will say this. There is a way to play football. It might be under some draconian measures where players have to be away from their families sequestered in North Dakota for four or five months. But there's so much at stake money wise, both the league, the owners and the players, everyone involved to get this thing going. 

WLRN: What are you hearing from players about the possibility that they might play in a stadium or they'll play in a field, and nobody's watching? They'll watch on TV, but nobody's watching.

Yeah, I think they would be okay with that. I think what they have real problems with would be if they would be taken away from their families and sequestered for half a year. I think that would cause some real hardship, particularly because they'd be worried about their wives, kids, moms, dads, brothers and sisters back home. And they can't be around to help them if there's a coronavirus instance in their family. So there's so many levels to this. But I will say this. This is a $60 billion industry. There is great, great incentive for all parties involved to figure out a way to play games. I think we're going to see football this fall. It just might look very different than anything we're used to.

So there's one thing that is happening and that is the draft and it's coming April 23rd through the 25th. They were going to hold this in Las Vegas. And my understanding is they were going all out. It was going to be extravagant. Outrageous, right?

Las Vegas was set to host this year's draft, and it was going to be extravagant.

Yeah. I was supposed to fly out there for the week and cover the draft. And sadly, that like everything else has been shut down. But it was going to be over the top. I mean, it was going to be really, really wild. And sadly, we're gonna have to wait a year to see those plans come to fruition. There will be no mega draft like we're accustomed to hundreds of thousands of people on the streets. Of course, that would never happen. Nevada won't allow this in these times. What will happen is this studio show based out of Bristol, where ESPN is headquartered, and the commissioner will be announcing the picks in his basement, I believe, in Westchester County, New York. So they were going to have a draft, it's going to be a studio show. The teams are all going to be linked in through either Zoom or whatever the platform. The NFL decides to use video conferencing with both the league and other teams. It's going to be wild. It's going to be like you doing your fantasy football draft in your basement at 2 o'clock in the morning on the Thursday before the season starts. Except these are the highest stakes, the Dolphins have been planning for this moment for a year and a half.

It's interesting that you say that, you know, it's going to be like a fantasy league. And anybody who's ever done one knows the frustration. Your Internet goes out. You lose your pick. And that's really frustrating. How are they preparing for the technological glitches that could come during a draft in areas like this?

There will be redundancy upon redundancy upon redundancy. If, say, Chris Grier's internet goes out, he can call Brian Flores, Brian Flores can call the league or they can call the league directly. There's a lot of different ways to get that information in. And to be honest, the first round shouldn't be a problem. I think you get ten minutes for each pick in the first round. You can make workarounds pretty quickly. What the problem will be is on Saturday of the draft, when the picks are three, five minutes and they come out rapid fire pick after pick. If Comcast is giving you some issues. If you're locked down, if you're frozen and you can't get in touch with the league, they're just going to skip you in the order, as you said.

There's a lot at stake for the Dolphins here. They have a lot of picks. Remind us how many and how did they get so many?

Yeah, they have 14 draft picks, including three in the first round. They've got all those picks by essentially punting on the 2019 season. It's so much fun if you're a Dolphins fan because the draft is a time of hope. It's a time to look into the future. Do we finally get the franchise quarterback that's going to lead us out of the wilderness? The Dolphins are in position to do so. Now they just have to execute.

Credit WLRN
The Dolphins are expected to pick one of two quarterback prospects, either Justin Herbert of Oregon or Tua Tagovailoa from Alabama.

All right. Let's look at the elephant in the room, we're talking about the one guy we're all trying to get - the quarterback. And for a year, year and a half, all we've heard is there's this guy Tua in Alabama and he's gonna be our future. So, Adam, break the news right here, right now. Who are the Dolphins picking?

Oh, the drama, the pressure. I don't know for certain. No one, aside from the people in that room, know for certain right now. But I would say the odds are against them drafting Tua Tagovailoa because of the great uncertainty about his health. He underwent three surgeries in the last two seasons at Alabama, including that massive hip injury. Some people think he's going to have, maybe need to get, a hip replacement someday. Certainly arthritis is a concern. They think he'll be fine to play in 2020, but his long term health is a big, big worry.

So help me understand this. When we're looking for the future star, the next Dan Marino, the next, dare I say, Tom Brady, is there a science to this or is it just dumb luck? Is it a guessing game?

Can I say yes? They've been watching a lot of these guys since the day they stepped on their college campuses 3, 4 years ago. They have scouts that go and visit the university on a weekly basis. They have all the game tape you could imagine. They have high level millionaires in the organization who are paid to know how to get this right. And teams still only get it right about 50 percent of the time. So, yes, there is a lot of luck involved. Look, the New England Patriots never thought they'd get a future Hall of Famer with the one hundred and ninety ninth, I believe, pick in the 2000 draft. His name is Tom Brady. So sometimes you get lucky.

What's it like right now for people? How are they getting through all this (without sports)?

I'm burning through each and every episode on Netflix. And after that, I'm going to be out of things to do. I know the networks have been replaying some of the great games championships of years past. And that's fun. But it's not the same. We need new content. This is my prediction: By July 1st, we'll have sports back on television.

Luis Hernandez is an award-winning journalist and host whose career spans three decades in cities across the U.S. He’s the host of WLRN’s newest daily talk show, Sundial (Mon-Thu), and the news anchor every afternoon during All Things Considered.