We will see what comes down the pipeline, but right now, it does not at all sound as though the NFL will be able to hold the 2020 NFL Draft as designed. The Centers for Disease Control, for example, just issued a recommendation in which all gatherings of 50 or more people would be suspended for at least the duration of the next two months. The draft is scheduled to take place roughly six weeks from now.
“CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States”, it reads on the agency’s website.
“Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual”.
It’s fair to say that the NFL should be capable of holding the draft virtually. After all, thousands of ‘leagues’ around the country every year hold virtual drafts. That’s obviously not the same and I’m largely being facetious, but the fact remains that what we experience as the ‘NFL Draft’ is primarily pageantry and is not crucial to the fundamental aspect of the event, which is for teams to select players from college draft prospects.
According to John Locher, a photographer for the Associated Press, in fact, “Las Vegas is already canceled — it just hasn’t been announced yet — and the league will announce the Draft is being postponed until late May at least — as soon as the NFLPA’s decision on the new CBA is announced”.
The draft, of course, is scheduled to be held in Las Vegas this year. Andy Slater also Tweeted that “the NFL has informed their biggest host hotels in Vegas that the draft won’t take place there April 23-25”, and that many hotels there “are planning to scale down their operations beginning on Monday”.
From the league’s perspective, the draft is the single most important tentpole event of the offseason between the end of the Super Bowl and the start of the regular season (or at least the preseason). So it would not at all be surprising if they looked into postponing the draft in the hopes of being able to hold the event with its full pageantry.
That would be a major inconvenience to teams, of course, because it would mean it would take that much longer to get their players in the building. Then again, they may not even be allowed in the building at that point anyway. At the very least, however, they could know which players they will have and would be able to give them playbooks and talk about plans with them.