Should Teams Panic About Online NFL Draft Being Hacked?

Apr 9, 2020, 10:33 AM
Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens looks on from the sidelines during the AFC Divisio...
Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens looks on from the sidelines during the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium on January 11, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)
(Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NFL Draft is one of the few sporting events going on as scheduled — albeit a few tweaks like doing it online only.

The online portion is a huge change for the draft. The coaches, scouts, general managers, and others involved will be in a different room to communicate. This means that a lot of these conversations very well could take place over a video conferencing service like Zoom.

There have been issues with Zoom all over the news lately with meetings getting hacked. Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is worried about that happening to the NFL Draft.

“Yeah, big concern,” Harbaugh said during a predraft conference Zoom call Monday. “Every time I read something in, like, the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times that talks about how messed up Zoom is, or some of these other deals … I immediately text it to our IT people, and [director of football administration] Nick Matteo’s one of those guys, and they assure me that we are doing everything humanly possible.”

“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I really wouldn’t want the opposing coaches to have our playbook or our draft meetings. That would be preferable if we can stay away from that.”

NFL coaches are a different breed of people. They work around the clock, give vague answers in press conferences, and get very concerned about giving away too much information.

Plus, given some ages of these staff members, how many use this type of technology regularly. Maybe there is a concern of not muting the chat and spilling the beans on their draft strategy accidentally, or not clicking the right setting to make a video call private.

The NFL is doing a practice draft virtually to make sure the real thing that will be televised to millions of people goes as smoothly as possible.

Is Paranoia Founded?

KSL Unrivaled hosts Alex Kirry and Scott Mitchell are totally buying this as a possibility. Coaches and teams should be cautious in protecting draft intel.

NFL teams are always looking for some advantage, it was 13 years ago that the New England Patriots were caught videotaping the New York Jets during pregame of a regular-season game.

Then there was the allegation later that season that said the Patriots were filming the St. Louis Rams during its Super Bowl walk-through. There was no evidence of the latter but the end result was the loss of New England’s first-round draft pick.

So, teams probably should be cautious of any shady actions.

“This is something to be paranoid about we know that sports are not above stealing stuff from each other,” Kirry said. “Hacking somebody’s war room is a real possibility in 2020.”

Mitchell would not be surprised if teams in the past have tried to secretly acquire intel.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if people have tried to bug rooms. There is all kinds of nefarious gamesmanship things going on in the NFL Draft,” Mitchell said. “Teams are calling players to keep them occupied and giving out disinformation through the process.”

“I will give you one name: Bill Belichick. He would try anything he possibly could to get information intel on anyone.”

If we could all get a look behind the scenes in the war rooms would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear those conversations and fights that go into an NFL team placing a tremendous amount of faith into who they are picking to shape their team for the future.

Odds of anyone hacking these meetings are probably low when considering the NFL is a multi-billion company with its tools and resources. Also, what benefit is there to really gain by seeing what the draft board of an NFL team looks like?

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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Should Teams Panic About Online NFL Draft Being Hacked?