As the world continues to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, everything in life including sports has come to a complete stop. The only sports related thing fans can look forward to at least in the next few weeks is the NFL Draft. The league announced that the draft would still go on, but all activities around the draft would be cancelled and the draft itself would be held in a studio. As we are four weeks away from the draft, questions about if the draft should still happen are now starting to rise.
From Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini of ESPN, the general manager’s subcommittee sent a recommendation to commissioner Roger Goodell to postponed the draft due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“General managers are concerned that, in this current environment, with offseason activities cancelled and some teams’ facilities closed, there won’t be enough time for player physicals, gathering psychological testing, getting further verified information about the players and some teams having to conduct the draft from home.”
As much as I don’t want to admit it, there are serious questions we need to ask about if this draft can still go on. States like California, New York and New Jersey and forcing people to stay home. Which means team officials can’t even go to their facilities. We all have seen how crowded these “war rooms” can get. It wouldn’t be a great look to have 20-30 people in a room when the national message right now is to stay home and be in groups of less than 10.
Another major problem right now is travel is pretty limited in the United States. There aren’t law at the moment saying people can’t travel but again the overall message is don’t go anywhere. This makes it very difficult for teams to evaluate players especially when it comes to their physicals. Teams can’t get their trainers to look at players and are solely relying on medical reports from player doctors. To say any of these teams have a good idea about these players health is just a straight up lie at this point.
The selfish fan in me wants the draft to continue in late April. It’s the only sport related thing to look forward to. If that’s postponed we have nothing for months. But if I put the fan in me aside, the reality is that right now it’s very difficult for teams to do their jobs at the moment. They can’t see players, they can’t travel, they can’t even go to their team facilitates. OTA’s have been cancelled and many other offseason activities will be delayed in the next few months. You need that time to coach new players and have them learn the playbook. This is even more crucial for rookies as they take the leap from college to the pro’s. To say to teams just draft players, wait a couple months before doing anything, go to training camp and hope it works out isn’t right.
Will the draft actually be postponed? I have no idea. The NFL is going to have to make a decision soon because this is only weeks away. As much I would love for the draft to happen on April 23rd, I just don’t think it’s the right move. The NFL Draft is critical for teams and their futures and for the NFL to ask teams to “do their best” without being fully able to do their jobs is irresponsible. We will get through this pandemic in time. But right now, the NFL would be wise to call off the draft for now.