Will there still be an NFL Draft during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Yes, the 2020 NFL Draft will take place but it will be online only
  • The draft will occur April 23-25
  • Team GMs wanted to postpone it but were overruled by the owners

The entire sports world has been disrupted during the coronavirus pandemic, though some leagues are trying to figure out how to continue their businesses in some form or fashion. That includes the NFL, which is in the middle of its offseason but which features annually in April one of the sport’s most anticipated events: the NFL draft, where college players are selected by all 32 teams for their future professional careers.

After weeks of trying to figure out its next steps, the NFL announced on April 6 that its draft would continue on but only in a virtual format. The draft was originally scheduled for April 23-25 in Las Vegas, where the teams (and plenty of their fans) would gather at a large venue to hold the draft and where NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would welcome some of college’s biggest stars into the pros with hugs and jersey exchanges.

Now, the hugs will be between the draftees and their family members only on those three days later this month, wherever they decide to watch it.

“Clubs have been advised to prepare to conduct the 2020 Draft entirely outside of their facilities and in a fully virtual format, with club personnel in separate locations and able to communicate with one another and Draft headquarters by phone or internet,” Goodell said in a memo released to all NFL teams. “…After consulting with medical advisors, we cannot identify an alternative that is preferable from a medical or public health perspective, given the varying needs of clubs, the need properly to screen participants, and the unique risk factors that individual club employees may face.”

In the 23 states where NFL teams reside, only two of them (Tennessee and Texas) are not under a statewide shelter-in-place order.

Thought the Associated Press reported that a number of team general managers wanted to postpone the draft, the team owners ultimately wanted to go forward with it.

All NFL team facilities have been closed since March 26, and they will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Sources: NFL.com, Associated Press, CBS Sports

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