Originally, the plan was to hold tonight's NFL Draft in Las Vegas. The stage would've been on the water at the Fountains of Bellagio. The players were going to be transported there by boat. Upward of a million fans were expected to attend the three-day event.
Yeah, that's no longer the plan. We've had a helluva year in the past two months, and things have changed. The event is now basically a glorified friends-and-family fantasy football draft, and all of the teams are freaking out about it.
Teams will now make picks remotely — as in their kitchens and home offices, not the Fountains of Bellagio. A lot can go wrong. This could be bad.
Come 8 p.m., here are some things that warrant your attention.
John Lynch, Tom Telesco, or Dave Gettelman’s— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) April 20, 2020
Which home draft room best describes you? pic.twitter.com/Z5qskFZQ4b
Someone call Marie Kondo because this thing could be a huge mess. NFL general managers have begun assembling their at-home war rooms, and they do not all look alike. Unlike NFL headquarters, where all teams have tech guys around to snuff out any IT issues, the general managers, scouts, coaches, and anyone else involved in the teams' picks will be on their own this time.
Nobody wants to be inside anyone else's house, so it's every man for himself. Some will be fine. Others will be asking where the free AOL disc is or where to plug in the phone line.
ESPN's Adam Schefter, this afternoon, on Fins: "Are they going to go for Tua?.. Are they going to pull the upset and go with Jordan Love? We've talked about Justin Herbert to the Dolphins last week. I'm not hearing a lot of that this week." https://t.co/JKzlRqn1cY— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) April 21, 2020
Tua Miami, or not Tua Miami, that is the question. By selecting Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins have a real chance to either reinvigorate their fan base and provide the sort of buzz the franchise hasn't seen since Dan Marino retired, or do anything else and remove the last ounce of patience and sanity many of their fans have left. Tune in to find out!
The Fins have blown a lot of smoke (via rumors that were likely leaked to the media on purpose) by insisting they're not sold on Tua. If it turns out it wasn't smoke but an actual fire, there will be a revolt the likes of which the Dolphins never could have imagined. It's totally their call, though. It's chill, really.
“EVERYBODY GET OFF THE INTERNET!”— Golic and Wingo (@GolicAndWingo) April 21, 2020
-@diannaESPN tells a story about one NFL HC who was frustrated with his kids using up the bandwidth as teams work out the kinks for a virtual NFL Draft pic.twitter.com/h9oygGIJML
Come for the football players being drafted; stay for the chance you might see a train wreck. As mentioned earlier, the draft could all be an unmitigated disaster. Either that or it goes super well — nobody knows! There are general managers in charge of the future of your football team fighting their daughters Sierra and Madison for bandwidth in order to properly call in the picks. If your GM's son Blake forgets and plays Call of Duty at the wrong time, the entire sports world could be delayed 30 minutes.
There will be thousands of variables at play behind the scenes while the rest of us beg for new sports content. If you are one of the poor people who has caught a glimpse of ESPN's NBA H-O-R-S-E tournament that players are apparently shooting using iPads, you know what could happen here.
Besides the Tua drama, what else is in store for Dolphins fans? Tonight Miami is scheduled to select fifth, 18th, and 26th. That's nearly 10 percent of the entire first round. That's the most in the NFL. The real question is if the Dolphins will sit back and simply select three players or if they'll trade up or down to grab guys they have their eye on.
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There's a really good chance the Dolphins need to spend one of their later picks on a trade up from number five to the Detroit Lions' number-three pick in order to secure Tua. That stinks — considering they traded Minkah Fitzpatrick and Laremy Tunsil for those extra selections — but you have to do what you have to do to get your franchise quarterback of the future.
Do Dolphins fans leave Thursday night feeling like last season was worth the pain and suffering? Tonight is the result of 16 weeks of football in 2019 that included 11 losses. All of the stinking on purpose, all of the trading Pro Bowl players for draft picks — it was all meant to culminate in a payoff that is tonight's first round. Most teams get one shot at a dynamic first-32 football player, but the Fins get three tonight because they planned it that way.
Will it matter? Will fans leave feeling like the team got measurably better? Or will they end up with an offensive lineman, lesser-desired quarterback Jordan Love, and an end-of-the-first-round defensive tackle no one has heard of until recently?
The team needs to nail this one. The fans sat through last season for this moment. Finding a way to come out of these next few hours with Tua and supporting pieces is almost required. It could be the most important draft in Miami Dolphins history.