Mock Draft Tips: It’s best to hit the ‘decline’ button on this year’s trade proposals

NFL Draft News
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As part of an occasional series, Fanspeak will offer tips and best practices for its wildly popular and first-of-its-kind On The Clock draft simulator.

Today’s topic: Bad news for all trade-crazy NFL draft fans: There might not be many this year due to the unusual circumstances of the draft.

The then-San Diego Chargers took Eli Manning of Mississippi with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft. But Manning didn’t want to play there, so a deal was worked out with the New York Giants, who drafted N.C. State’s Phillip Rivers with the no. 4 pick. The two QBs were swapped, the Giants also gave up a third-round pick and a first- and fifth-round pick in 2005, and history was made.

Now, imagine that entire trade taking place over Skype. Or FaceTime. And all those involved in the trade were on separate connections from their home offices, where they might or might not have had quick access to all the information they needed.

If that’s what was going on in 2004, then Manning might have been a Charger for the next decade or so.

But that’s the reality of the 2020 NFL draft, as the global pandemic has forced the NFL to hold a virtual draft April 23-25. Even before the announcement, speculation was mounting on how the safety restrictions would impact the draft.

And now there’s a growing sense from NFL personnel and draft analysts that trades may be scarce this year because of the virtual setup.

From record-breaking to …

A record 40 draft-day trades took place last year. This year? That tally might be cut in half, or more.

Here’s what’s being said:

  • You could see more Round 1 trades prior to the draft than day-of trades
  • Teams currently receive 10 minutes to make their selection in Round 1, seven minutes to make their pick in Round 2, five minutes for rounds 3-6, and four minutes for Round 7. Unless more time is granted for each round, it’s possible – if not probable, as some suggest — that fewer trades will take place because it’s the first time teams have used this setup.
  • Although you could see fewer trades while rounds are in progress, you could see an increase in trades made before Day 2 and Day 3 start.

Some recent headlines include:

  • “Virtual NFL Draft setup makes Dave Gettleman draft-day trade back even less likely” (N.Y. Daily News)
  • “Buffalo Bills GM details challenges of virtual NFL Draft: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if there were less trades’” (
  • “Virus costly to draft prospects needing face time with teams” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

The bottom line?

While it’s tempting to say “yes” to all those 4-for-1, computer-generated trades while using the On The Clock simulator, you probably have to decline those offers this year if you want a more realistic draft experience.

That means, at some point, you gotta stop trading the farm to move up to take Chase Young. Not gonna happen, ever, especially this year.


Jake Rigdon ( covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak and the On The Clock, which is the only NFL draft simulator that allows you to customize and use your own big board while giving you control over trades.

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