The NFL is moving forward with a virtual draft to be held April 23 to 25

By Jason Duaine Hahn
April 07, 2020 02:53 PM
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Roger Goodell
Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty

This year’s NFL Draft will be like no other before it.

The league announced that they will move forward with a “fully virtual” draft set to take place from April 23 to 25, commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed in a memo sent out to teams this week.

The move comes in response to the coronavirus epidemic that has forced the NFL to indefinitely close team facilities during the offseason, making it nearly impossible to hold the draft in a public setting like previous years.

General managers and coaches across the league will have to participate from their separate homes and are barred from gathering in a group for the three-day event.

“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 the memo, which was posted to the NFL’s website.

“We have reviewed this matter in the past few days with both the Competition Committee and CEC, and this will confirm that Clubs will conduct their Draft operations remotely, with club personnel separately located in their homes,” he added.

A virtual draft will also allow all NFL personnel to “comply with government directives and to model safe and appropriate health practices,” the memo continued.

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“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,” Goodell explained.

The draft was initially scheduled for Las Vegas, where the former Oakland Raiders have now relocated.

Before the decision for a virtual draft became official, NFL general managers sought to delay the event instead of moving forward with the alternative. But team owners felt strongly that the event needed to stick with its original dates, according to ESPN.

“We are operating in an environment unlike anything we have experienced before, one that requires flexibility, patience, and cooperation,” Goodell said at the end of his memo. “As we work through those challenges together, we should not lose sight of the magnitude of this global health crisis, of the extraordinary work of first responders, healthcare workers, and so many others, of the growing number of Americans in need of assistance, and of those who have lost family or friends to this virus.”

According to Tom Pelisseo of NFL.com, players who are drafted won’t be allowed to have more than 10 people in a room with them, and all will have to remain 6 feet apart.

The virtual draft will be broadcasted on ESPN. According to the outlet, the NFL is planning to run a telethon during the event to aid coronavirus relief efforts.