ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. to Work 2022 NFL Draft Remotely Due to Being Unvaccinated

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 18, 2022

Mel Kiper Jr. is seen on the set of ESPN SportsCenter, Wednesday, April 24, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)
AP Photo/Steve Luciano

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. will work remotely for the network's coverage of the 2022 NFL draft, which runs from April 28-30 in Las Vegas.

Kiper announced Monday that he's unvaccinated against COVID-19 and will provide insight from his Maryland home during the draft.

"I completely support everyone determining what's best for their individual circumstance and recognize the value of vaccines," he said. "Simply put, my COVID vaccination decision is very specific to my own personal medical history."

Mel Kiper Jr. @MelKiperESPN

I am looking forward to being part of the 2022 NFL Draft, my 39th for ESPN <a href="https://t.co/C5ea9NjdqK">pic.twitter.com/C5ea9NjdqK</a>

Amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL made the 2020 draft fully virtual, with Commissioner Roger Goodell announcing some picks from the comfort of his basement. That precluded the networks from airing live on-site coverage.

A more traditional draft returned in 2021, with Cleveland playing host. Kiper provided insight for all three days across coverage on ESPN and ABC.

The 61-year-old has become perhaps the preeminent voice when it comes to the NFL draft. Fans routinely await his mock drafts leading up to the event and listen to hear what he has to say about each player as they come off the board.

Kiper's profile soared after he took issue with the Indianapolis Colts selecting Trev Alberts over Trent Dilfer in the 1994 draft, which drew a rebuke from then-Colts general manager Bill Tobin.

That this is due to be Kiper's 39th draft with ESPN is a testament to his staying power and popularity.