The 2020 NFL Draft was supposed to be the league’s unofficial welcome to the city of Las Vegas. With the Raiders moving from Oakland this offseason and set to begin playing in the desert this fall, the Draft was truly a kick-off event for the city and should have been a massive gathering of football fans for the league’s premier offseason event.
However, the recent spread of the coronavirus has put those plans on hold. Although every other sports league in North America has suspended its operations, the NFL — in a unique position as the only one not playing games at present — is moving on as scheduled. The main disruption so far has come to scouting staffs, as most teams have by now instructed their scouts not to travel and told employees to work from home wherever possible.
Even free agency and the start of the 2020 league year can carry on relatively unhindered by the necessity to work remotely. But the NFL Draft, which becomes a bigger and bigger spectator event every year, is a different story. This year’s Draft, scheduled for April 23 through 25, will still take place at that time, but Las Vegas will not have the opportunity to host the massive event.
On Monday morning, the NFL released a statement saying the 2020 NFL Draft will still go on as scheduled. However, all public events around the draft are canceled, and
Hub Arkush of Bears Insider reported late on Saturday night that the NFL had made the decision to reschedule the draft. Instead, the event will go on remotely, much as it did in decades ago, before it became a public spectacle.
Whether this will affect offseason workout programs remains to be seen. Teams were scheduled to hold their rookie minicamps on one of the next two weekends immediately following the Draft, and those activities are in question. Likewise, organized team activities practices and minicamp in May and June are hardly assured, and if they get pushed back, the league would almost certainly need to look at a delay of the 2020 training camps, preseason, and regular season as well.
But for now, the 2020 NFL Draft will continue on, with all fans — and teams — watching and participating from afar.