NFL Announces 2020 Draft Will Be 'Fully Virtual' with Team Facilities Closed

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2020

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 25:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stands at the podium during day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft  April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo confirming the 2020 draft will be "fully virtual" and that team facilities will be closed to all employees.

"We will reopen facilities when it is safe to do so based on medical and public health advice, and in compliance with government mandates," Goodell said.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero shared a copy of the memo:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell just informed clubs in a memo that club facilities will remain closed indefinitely and the league will conduct a “fully virtual” draft, with club personnel separately located in their homes. https://t.co/28t2kNnLAI

Originally, the April 23-25 event was supposed to take place in Las Vegas for the first time ever, with thousands expected there to watch, but the NFL announced March 16 that all public draft-related events were off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Goodell said:

"This decision reflects our foremost priority—the health and safety of all fans and citizens. While this outcome is disappointing both to the NFL and to the Las Vegas community, we look forward to partnering with the Raiders, the City of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for a future NFL draft as well as evaluating opportunities for other major NFL events in Las Vegas in the future, including the Super Bowl."

With Vegas finally becoming part of the NFL family in 2020 after the Raiders' relocation, it was an obvious choice to host the draft. Had the draft taken place as planned, Las Vegas would have joined a long list of major cities that have held the draft over the years, including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

While the 2021 draft is spoken for with Cleveland hosting and the 2023 draft will take place in Kansas City, no decision has been made for 2022.

The NFL has taken a "show must go on" approach with its offseason, as free agency and the draft have proceeded despite the restrictions the COVID-19 pandemic have caused.

The coronavirus outbreak essentially made in-person meetings with free agents and draft prospects impossible, which has forced teams to rely on different means. As far as the draft goes, teams will largely lean on game tape, what they saw at the NFL Scouting Combine and any medical information that was gathered during the combine.

The top of the draft should be fairly straightforward, with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young likely going first and second overall to the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins, respectively, but things are more fluid after that.

While the glitz and glamour won't be there in 2020, it will allow the league to go back to its roots and present the draft in an old-school way. Most importantly, the draft is still happening on the scheduled dates, so prospects will see their dreams come true and fans will have a three-day distraction during a difficult time.


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