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2020 NFL Draft will proceed as a virtual draft

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I don’t envy teams IT workers

NFL Draft Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

On Thursday, the NFL reported that they were considering two options for the NFL Draft. Early Monday afternoon, the league announced they would proceed with a virtual draft. With teams facilities remaining closed indefinitely to remain compliant with the current regulations surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, here is the memo:

In response to developing conditions and the advice of medical and public health experts, authorities at all levels of government have expanded the scope and extended the duration of orders requiring residents to shelter-in-place (“stay at home” orders) and closing non-essential businesses. These orders now cover the vast majority of residents and include every NFL home community. In some locations, these orders extend as far as June, and we should expect that this trend will continue.

As you know, our offices have been closed since March 13 and all Club facilities have been closed since March 26. These steps were taken to protect our players and staffs, to model appropriate behavior, and to ensure competitive equity among all 32 clubs. Given current and expected conditions, and to ensure that we operate responsibly and in full compliance with current regulations, both League and Club facilities will remain closed indefinitely. We will reopen facilities when it is safe to do so based on medical and public health advice, and in compliance with government mandates.

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 public 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.

Accordingly, all clubs should dedicate their personnel and technology resources toward preparing for a fully virtual Draft, with personnel in separate locations. Our staff in Events, Football Operations, Information Technology and the Management Council will be in contact with each Club and remains fully available to answer questions or assist in your preparations. Our understanding is that many clubs are already well advanced in preparing for a virtual Draft and we are confident that all clubs can take the necessary steps to make the 2020 Draft a successful event.

I have spoken to many of you in the past several days and recognize the challenges facing all of us. We are operating in an environment unlike anything we have experienced before, one that requires flexibility, patience, and cooperation. As we work through those challenges together, we should not lose sight of the magnitude of this global health crisis, of the extraordinary work of first responders, healthcare workers, and so many others, of the growing number of Americans in need of assistance, and of those who have lost family or friends to this virus.

Please feel free to reach out if you have specific concerns or needs and thank you for all that you are doing to help your communities and employees during these uncertain times.”

Ian Rapoport said that one general manager stressed about the communication involved in trades, and teams are looking at a way to do three and four-way phone calls to make trades easier to diagnose and figure out. It feels inevitable that a team is going to run out of time while they’re on the clock or have a trade fall through.

The internet has already made jokes about Patriots head coach Bill Belichick hiring hackers or about Giants general manager Dave Gettleman and his “computer people.” How the NFL Draft will play out for fans watching at home remains to be seen. Surely, the NFL office will work out a deal with various sports networks who planned on covering the draft originally to work something out that gives the consumer the best experience. We are a little over two weeks away from the NFL Draft, which starts April 23. Expect more and more info to be released as the date approaches.