RandBall Logo



Find breaking sports news and commentary on Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Wild and University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and high schools from Minneapolis, St. Paul, the Twin Cities metro area and Minnesota.

NFL Draft will go on as scheduled -- but will rookies suffer the most?

Roger Goodell, in very on-brand fashion, distributed an NFL-wide memo Thursday to teams saying the April 23-25 draft will go on as planned while also warning that anyone who dares criticize the plan publicly “serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action.”

This is hardly surprising for a league that, so far, has been proceeding with barely any meaningful acknowledgement that we’re in the midst of a global health pandemic — though, to be fair, a league that is in its offseason does need to be ready for the resumption of more regular activities, whenever they might occur.

With the NFL it’s often the approach, not the end result, that makes you hold your nose.

The draft will be significantly changed in style — it won’t be a glamorous affair in Las Vegas, nor will players or families be present on-site — but not really substance. There will still be 255 picks, and those players will be distributed to 32 teams. A lot of the scouting work has already been done, and the NFL Combine happened before the shutdown.

What comes after the draft, however, could be quite different from normal years — and could be detrimental to rookies and teams like the Vikings who might be leaning heavily on young players in 2020.

The Vikings have 12 total picks — including five picks in the first three rounds (two firsts, a second and two thirds). They presumably will be using those premium choices to restock positions of need, including cornerback and offensive line.

The NFL recently ordered team facilities to be shut down for at least two weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. A realist would concluded that facilities will be shut down well beyond just those two weeks as teams — like the rest of us, and perhaps even more so given how close together athletes work — exercise an abundance of caution.

While nobody can accurately predict how the next few months will play out with this pandemic — and certainly there are a million questions more important than how it impacts football — let’s say NFL teams feel confident they can re-open facilities in mid-June.

That would be about six weeks later than the usual rookie mini-camp window (slated for May 1-4 or May 8-11 this year). It would be close to a month after OTAs usually start. Veterans would be able to catch up pretty easily. But young players learning new systems, plays and techniques would be significantly behind.

It wouldn’t be as extreme in this scenario as the 2011 lockout — which didn’t end until late July, and during which teams couldn’t sign free agents nor could coaches communicate with players — but one of the major narratives coming out of that work stoppage was the impact on young players (including Vikings rookie QB Christian Ponder).

None of this is a reason to postpone the draft — even if that was reportedly the recommendation of general managers. It will be useful for teams to know their rosters ahead of time for whenever activities presumably return to something resembling normal.

But it does make you wonder what the impact will be on NFL teams — particularly one like the Vikings, with so many picks and a high likelihood of needing to rely on those picks immediately — even if the regular season manages to start on time.

Virtual happy hour debate: Best Twins team of the past 20 years?

Jim Souhan and I had a fun discussion on Wednesday’s Twins Insider podcast: What was the best Twins team of the last 20 years? That encompasses all eight playoff seasons from 2002-present, providing plenty of fodder for debate.

It’s glorious outside, so I suggest you talk about this OUTSIDE during your virtual happy hour. Everything is portable. You can do it.

Items for discussion: Is the answer the 2019 Twins because they won the most games (101)? Is it the 2002 Twins because they were the only Twins team to advance in the playoffs in any of those  seasons? Maybe it’s the 2006 Twins because that team featured an MVP (Justin Morneau), batting champ (Joe Mauer) and Cy Young (Johan Santana). I’d listen to an argument for 2004 (should have beaten the Yankees in the playoffs) or 2010 (strong veteran team that looked built for a run before, you know, Yankees.

If you burn through that one, Souhan and I also discussed this: Take any Twins player from any Twins season in the last 20 years and put him on another Twins team from the last 20 years. What one swap gives that new team the best chance to win it all?

Souhan probably had the correct answer: Put 2006-era Johan Santana on the 2019 Twins — solving an obvious problem (top-notch starting pitching) for an otherwise loaded team. I also wondered if putting MVP Joe Mauer from 2009 on the 2004 Twins (the year Mauer got hurt and they leaned on Henry Blanco at catcher) might have made enough of a postseason difference.

Maybe you want 2006 Nick Punto on all of those teams for his HUSTLE AND GRIT. The most painful answer, of course, is to put the first four months of 2006 Francisco Liriano on the postseason roster that season. If he hadn’t been injured late that season, the Twins just might have won it all.

Stay home. Stay safe. And tell me how the discussion plays out.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

Today's Scoreboard

  • NY Yankees



  • Boston



  • St. Louis



  • Detroit



  • Philadelphia



  • Washington

    NY Mets


  • Pittsburgh

    Tampa Bay


  • Kansas City

    Chicago White Sox


  • LA Angels



  • Minnesota



  • Atlanta



  • Colorado

    San Diego


  • Texas



  • Chicago Cubs




No NFL games today

  • Milwaukee


    2:00 PM

  • Houston


    4:00 PM

  • New Orleans


    5:00 PM


  • Minnesota


    5:00 PM


  • Portland


    6:30 PM

  • San Antonio

    Golden State

    7:30 PM

  • Indiana


    8:00 PM

  • Pittsburgh


    11:00 AM


  • Los Angeles


    2:00 PM

  • Vegas


    2:00 PM

  • Carolina

    New Jersey

    2:00 PM

  • Minnesota

    St. Louis

    6:00 PM

    NBC Sports

  • Anaheim


    7:00 PM

  • Nashville


    8:30 PM

    NBC Sports

  • Arizona

    San Jose

    9:00 PM

No MLS games today