As the United States continues to grapple with the social impact of the novel coronavirus, the NFL is planning to continue holding the 2020 NFL Draft during its regularly scheduled weekend, April 23rd through 25th. However, the league will cancel the public events scheduled for the weekend, per NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo. Standard operating procedure for the draft is to host a week-long football party in the host city, including massive evening gatherings on the first two nights of the draft. With the need for social distancing to avoid spreading the virus and overwhelming the health care system, this change was a necessity.
Per Garafolo, the league “is exploring innovative ways” for how the process will be conducted. For instance, if travel and large group gatherings continue to be high-risk situations, it’s no longer realistic to ask 32 teams to have their ownership, management, scouts, and coaches all come together for the grand event. The league could consider adopting a conference call—something that Major League Baseball uses every year as part of its First-Year Player Draft.
The challenge will be finding a balance between an efficient process that allows the teams to successfully trade players and picks while phoning in results against the clock, and finding a way to televise and cover the draft with real-time analysis, breaking news, and entertaining highlight reels. These potential changes to the process will continue to be covered leading into the end of April.