NFL Officially Planning on Fully Virtual Draft

Will Ragatz

The NFL is officially moving forward with a fully virtual draft.

Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo on Monday advising teams of the decision and what it will look like when the draft rolls around in late April. He said that NFL and team facilities will remain closed indefinitely due to shelter-in-place orders and the shutdown of non-essential businesses across the country, and that the facilities will only reopen "when it is safe to do so based on medical and public health advice."

These are the two most important paragraphs from the memo:

Because of these circumstances, Clubs have been advised to prepare to conduct the 2020 Draft entirely outside of their facilities and in a fully virtual format, with club personnel in separate locations and able to communicate with one another and Draft headquarters by phone or internet. We have reviewed this matter in the past few days with both the Competition Committee and CEC, and this will confirm that Clubs will conduct their Draft operations remotely, with club personnel separately located in their homes.

We have made this decision for several reasons. All Clubs will not have access to their facilities, which is contrary to the fundamental equity principle that all clubs operate in a consistent and fair way. Moreover, we want all NFL personnel to comply with government directives and to model safe and appropriate health practices. Our staff will carry out its responsibilities in the same way, operating in separate locations outside of our offices. And after consulting with medical advisors, we cannot identify an alternative that is preferable from a medical or 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.

According to SI's Albert Breer, "most of the discussion on hubs for the draft broadcast have centered on ESPN’s campus in Bristol, Conn. and Goodell’s residence in Bronxville, N.Y." There have also been roughly 50 top prospects invited to participate in live broadcasts from their places of residence. Check out Breer's Monday Afternoon QB column for notes on the draft, the schedule release, the sky judge, and more.

This should all make for a unique, fascinating draft. Technological issues and internet connection could become factors, all of a sudden. And you wonder if the teams not being able to get together in their usual war rooms will have a tangible effect on how the draft plays out. Maybe teams will play it safer? Maybe there will be fewer trades? We'll find out in a couple weeks.

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