The 2020 NFL Draft will go on as planned…sort of. At least, for the time being, plans remain in place for the event to be held when it was previously scheduled to be held, between April 23-25. The who, the how, and the where are different questions—some might even raise the question of why.
According to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, sources have told him that the league’s current plans, which have not yet been discussed publicly, involve holding the draft in a studio setting, that would include cut-ins during the broadcast of teams’ war rooms, where perhaps, at least in some instances, they will announce their own selections.
Farmer also writes that the sources confirmed the event will not take place in Los Vegas, which is significant. The NFL had huge plans for this draft because of the fact that it was taking place in Las Vegas, for a multitude of reasons.
Not only is it the inaugural season for one of its premiere franchises, the Raiders, moving to the city—the first NFL team to ever be based there—it is also a sort of sign of the advancement of legal gambling on sporting events, in which the league will be becoming increasingly involved.
One of the most significant aspects of the drafts is the fact that, over the course of the past couple decades, give or take, the league has hosted a series of some of the most likely prospects to be drafted in the early rounds, so that they could be there in the building to celebrate their big moment.
From where we’re sitting, a little under a month away from the draft, it’s hard to imagine that they would be able to arrange a viable way for prospects to be present at whatever studio site ultimately ends up ‘hosting’ the draft.
Another staple of the event is the fact that it is hosted by commissioner Roger Goodell. The in-house boos that he receives every time he is present has become a ubiquitous part of the experience. I would imagine that he will be on-hand, though perhaps there will be nobody to boo him.
As sad as it is to say, right now we can’t even say for certain that even these plans are feasible, because we really don’t know how dire the COVID-19 situation may become over the course of the next several weeks.
Should the league manage to carry out the draft, it figures to be the only sporting or sporting-like event that will be on-air in the near future, so they should have the attention of a lot of eyeballs that they might not normally have, so in an ironic way, it could be good for business, at least for this one moment.