The NFL Draft Goes Virtual

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NFL Draft Goes Virtual
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during the NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY on Saturday, April 28, 2007. (Photo by Richard Schultz/NFLPhotoLibrary)

The NFL Draft, set to take place on April 23-25, was initially set to be held in Las Vegas. Due to a global pandemic, the 2020 NFL Draft will not go on as planned.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Monday that the NFL draft will be held virtually. Coaches, GMs, and team officials will be confined to living rooms, basements, and home offices as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. All team facilities will remain closed until further notice.

The NFL Draft Goes Virtual

Goodell Makes A Huge Announcement

The NFL executives forced to shut down all team facilities due to the Coronavirus outbreak in mid-March. Pre-draft interviews have taken place through video conferences. This technology will be vital to the draft, as all team officials and athletes must stay home.

“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 stated.

To take precautions, many teams have already been preparing for a virtual draft.  Some groups, such as the New York Jets, have set up virtual draft boards. “There’s a certain amount of (discomfort) when you’re moving from your office to your home office with the distractions that can take place,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said. “Everyone has had to go through that. I think everyone is doing a great job. I think we’ve been able to over-communicate. We’ve been able to stay on the same page.”

At a time when the country needs sports more than ever, the NFL draft will not be suspended or canceled. Goodell believes the draft could “serve a very positive purpose” for teams, fans, and the country. The NFL draft expects high ratings due to all other major sports leagues suspending their seasons.

How Potential Draftees Prepare For the Draft

COVID-19 has not only affected NFL franchises but the young athletes preparing for the NFL draft. Due to growing concerns over the spread of the Coronavirus, college athletic programs across the country have canceled pro days. Pro days are the last opportunity for NFL teams to scout potential prospects. Most top tier athletes will not have to worry about their draft stock. But for athletes who had to miss the combine, such as Tua Tagovailoa, Pro Days are essential to prove to NFL teams they are ready for the big stage.

“Absolutely the no-combine guys are hurt the most in this process,” one veteran scout told a reporter. To combat this problem, athletes have been providing videotape of their skills to NFL teams. Peter Schaffer, a veteran NFL agent for Authentic Athletix, represents prospects who train at Michael Johnson Performance. He has asked the director at MJP to tape all draft prospects in a mock pro day and filming it for the 32 NFL teams.

“The reality is that the players that workout at the combine, or went to an all-star game and they have enough film, they are fine,”  Schaffer said. “These other guys, the poor kid, spends 8-10 weeks training, and the agents spend $10-20,000 to get a 40 time at pro day, and now they aren’t running them. It’s horrible; it’s brutal.”

Most NFL scouts admit that the pro days are the most crucial part of the draft process.  With prospects filming a mock pro day, this helps NFL teams evaluate a player’s talent and skill set. Because the Coronavirus pandemic is making the NFL draft go virtual, both teams and prospects have to adjust to this unusual situation.

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