NEW YORK– NFL commissioner Roger Goodell received unanimous approval from his executive committee to hold the draft as scheduled next month. With revisions to the three-day event, the NFL decided to keep the draft on the same dates, April 23-25. Players, fans and media will not be present.
Goodell said in a memo to clubs that the NFL Management Council’s Executive Committee fully supported the plan despite a league order to close all team facilities to coaches and scouting staff as of Wednesday.
“Apart from the CEC, I have personally discussed this matter with many other club owners, club executives and coaches, and there is widespread support for the CEC’s conclusion,” Goodell said in the memo. “Everyone recognizes that public health conditions are highly uncertain and there is no assurance that we can select a different date and be confident that conditions will be significantly more favorable than they are today. I also believe that the draft can serve a very positive purpose for our clubs, our fans, and the country at large, and many of you have agreed.
“Because of the unique circumstances in our country today, the 2020 Draft will obviously need to be conducted in a different way. Already, we have cancelled all public events, we will not be bringing prospects and their families to the Draft, and the draft itself will be conducted and televised in a way that reflects current conditions.
“Our staff is certainly mindful of the operational issues this presents, and our top priority is putting in place procedures that allow all clubs to operate on a level playing field so that the draft is conducted in a way that is competitively fair to all clubs. All clubs should now be doing the necessary planning to conduct draft operations in a location outside of your facility, with a limited number of people present, and with sufficient technology resources to allow you to communicate internally, with other clubs, and with draft headquarters.”
The NFL shifted pre-draft preparations away from Las Vegas in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and will hold the draft in a studio setting. Players will be interviewed via video conference and other guests — college coaches and some NFL coaches and staff — are expected, using the same technology.
Pre-draft planning has been thrown out of whack by the spread of the coronavirus. Very few pro day workouts were held and some marquee players — including presumed No. 1 pick Joe Burrow and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — aren’t expected to be able to work out for scouts and general managers. Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner from LSU, opted not to work out at the NFL Scouting Combine but did formally interview with several teams in Indianapolis. Tagovailoa’s medical exam in Indianapolis lasted nearly 10 hours. He also met with teams on the scene there, but was scheduled to hold his pro day on April 9 in Tuscaloosa.
Instead of hosting players at team headquarters, NFL teams are visiting with them over phone and video chat.