While almost all professional sports across the globe have halted operation due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, business has been relatively normal for the NFL.
The league's free agency and new league year started on time, allowing teams to sign new players and make official trades. The NFL has shut down team facilities due to the virus, but much else has remained the same.
The NFL Draft is scheduled for April 23-25, and while all public activities have been canceled, the league does not plan to postpone it. Instead, reports surfaced that the NFL was considering holding the draft in a studio-type setting, with cameras at each team's headquarters. Regardless, the 2020 Draft will be unlike any in the league's history.
NFL analyst and former GM Charley Casserly joined The Sports Junkies on Thursday, and was asked about the limitations teams will have during the upcoming month preparing for the draft. Casserly stated that while it's unfortunate many Pro Days and pre-draft visits have been canceled, teams can still have solid drafts based on team scout's research throughout the past season.
"If you have good area scouts, they're going to know the history of these players," Casserly said. "They'll know that guys that haven't had any injuries, the guys that didn't go to the Combine, and those who should be healthy. You might make some mistakes. But you won't make as many as you think if you got good area scouts."
Usually, teams have war rooms on draft night, comprised of 20 or more people involved with the draft board. This year, having a typical war room is highly unlikely, as gatherings of 10 or more people are not recommended by the CDC through at least May 11.
While not having a full war room could be a challenge for some teams, Casserly thinks it's still possible for teams to communicate on which player they want to select.
"You're going to have some coordination back to your office," he said. "You're going to have meetings to set up the draft board. That can be done electronically. It's going to be on a computer, everybody can see that."
Teams will likely have to set up several skype or zoom sessions in order to have their full staff communicate with one another on draft night.
Many have wondered whether it would be possible to conduct a draft without having a large gathering. If the NFL plans to hold the draft on the date it's currently scheduled for, there would be no green room, no players walking across the stage, no handshakes with Roger Goodell, no in-person TV interviews, and so on. The draft as we know it would look completely different.
But as far as the actual football-related parts of the draft, Casserly believes that can be done, even without all the extra showbiz we're accustomed to.
"It's basically done all over the phone," Casserly said on the draft process. "Everything else is for show. You don't need television cameras to run the draft."
One thing that Casserly did bring to attention that could be an issue is draft day trades. Trades have become very frequent during the draft; there's almost never a first-round that goes without multiple deals. Due to limitations that teams have due to the coronavirus, making trades could become a lot more complicated.
"Who's going to be making the trades? How are you going to communicate with people on the phone making the trades? It's going to be complicated," he said. "You may have to stretch the time allowed for the picks in order to give people time to make a trade, have some discussion."
The NFL Draft is less than a month away, but there's a lot to figure out how the whole process will unfold.
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