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Roger Goodell Able to Hug 2021 NFL Draft Prospects After COVID-19 Vaccination

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2021

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File

After conducting last year's NFL draft virtually, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will once again have the opportunity to get up close and personal with draftees at the 2021 NFL draft.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Goodell has received his COVID-19 vaccination, meaning he will be able to hug prospects on stage after they are selected.

Hugs between the commissioner and draftees have become commonplace at the draft in recent years, but they could not occur last year since Goodell conducted the draft from his basement amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year's draft will take place in Cleveland, and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reported that 50,000 fans will be allowed to attend the event each day at the NFL draft campus, which is situated in downtown Cleveland.

The draft campus is outside, masks are mandatory and attendees will be physically distanced.

The NFL announced Friday that 13 prospects will be present in Cleveland when the draft begins next Thursday night:

NFL345 @NFL345

.@NFL Draft To Celebrate Past, Present &amp; Future Players.<br><br>58 prospects (13 on-site), as well as 32 current players and @NFLLegends, are confirmed to participate in the 2021 NFL Draft.<br><br>For the full list of participants: https://t.co/tZpNmSavHe pic.twitter.com/8hRHM32xKA

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Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is likely to go No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, is not among them, but several high-profile players will attend.

One of them is BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, who looks like a strong bet to be the second pick in the draft to the New York Jets.

Other notable players in attendance include Alabama wide receiver and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, who could become the highest-selected tight end in the history of the NFL draft.

Last year's draft was a celebrated event since it gave sports fans something to watch early in the pandemic with sports on hiatus, and it featured numerous unique, widely shared moments.

As fun as the virtual draft was, a return to normalcy for the 2021 NFL draft will likely be embraced by fans as well, and Goodell's hugs are part of that.

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