1. Buffalo's draft class draws positive initial reviews
The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman wrote about his impressions of the NFL Draft from the teams who walked away looking better to teams who had some puzzling picks. Feldman thinks the Bills had an impressive draft.
Getting defensive end A.J. Epenesa in the middle of the second round feels like a steal to me. I get that he didn't run great in Indy, but he's got some grown-man strength at a young age, and I saw him dominate some guys the NFL really seems to like. Utah running back Zack Moss in the third round is a great get too. He has quick feet and runs really hard. He's tough and reliable, and I could see him becoming a 1,000-yard back in his pro career. They got Jake Fromm in the fifth round, which I think is a good value. (I'll have more on him later in the column.) Productive, reliable Oregon State wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins in the sixth round also is a plus.
Feldman calls A.J. Epenesa Buffalo's best value pick explaining even drafting him late in the first round would have been worth it. He also sees similarities between Fromm and a current quarterback on the Bills roster.
Fromm is similar to former USC QB Matt Barkley, who played a lot early and is a high character guy but doesn't have the tools the NFL covets. Barkley is smart and solid and probably will be in the NFL as a backup for close to a decade. That's who I think Fromm could be. It was interesting to me that Fromm ended up getting picked in the fifth round by the Bills, the team where Barkley is the backup.
2. Virtual offseason plan for rookies
With the NFL Draft officially over, teams and rookies usually look forward to rookie minicamp which takes place around two weeks after the draft. Due to COVID-19, the rookies will follow a virtual offseason plan until all facilities are opened again. General manager Brandon Beane said he's not alone in wishing the rookie class could physically be in Buffalo already.
"That's what's so good about the rookie program in the spring," Beane said. "You're trying to set them up for success when they get to training camp and if there is no offseason and let's just say, August is when they can come in, it is going to be harder for some of these guys, especially undrafted free agents, because there's only so many reps and they're going to miss a lot of these spring reps that they would normally get. So I think that is going to be league-wide. It'll be harder for some of these free agents to make it, but in the end, I know Sean and his staff will do as much as they can to get these guys up to speed and try and--we're going to look for every competitive advantage we can to the other clubs.
For now, before the virtual rookie camp begins, the focus is on finalizing paperwork with their agents and making sure they receive iPads for their playbooks. Once the virtual period begins, rookies will primarily focus on meeting with players and staff in small groups.
"They'll meet with them and I don't know that it'll be much physically," Beane said. "I think it'll mostly be meetings. The coaches would love to find a way to do walkthroughs and things like that, but I know they're working on it. We'll see what they come up with, but it'll mostly be you're just trying to teach them in small groups."
3. NFL Draft draws record-setting viewership
The NFL announced the 2020 NFL Draft was the most watched draft ever. Over the three-day event, it reached a total of more than 55 million viewers. Compared to the viewership from 2019, the consumption increased by 35%.
Each day of the 2020 NFL Draft established new highs as an average audience of over 15.6 million viewers watched Round 1 on Thursday (+37% vs. 2019), over 8.2 million viewers watched Rounds 2 & 3 on Friday (+40% vs. 2019), and over 4.2 million viewers watched Rounds 4-7 on Saturday (+32% vs. 2019).
ESPN, ABC and NFL Network also hosted the Draft-A-Thon live fundraising program throughout the draft which received an average of over 5.4 million daily viewers. The NFL also announced it has raised more than $100 million in COVID-19 relief.
"I couldn't be more proud of the efforts and collaboration of our clubs, league personnel, and our partners to conduct an efficient Draft and share an unforgettable experience with millions of fans during these uncertain times," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "This Draft is the latest chapter in the NFL's storied history of lifting the spirit of America and unifying people. In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of so many talented young men, we were pleased that this unique Draft helped shine a light on today's true heroes – the healthcare workers, first responders, and countless others on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. We are also grateful to all those who contributed to the NFL family's fundraising efforts."
Fans can continue to donate at NFL.com/Relief.
Scroll through to view photos of Buffalo's selections in the 2020 NFL Draft to this point. Draft coverage is presented by ECMC.