The NFL draft this year will look different than usual, and for good reason.
The draft, scheduled for April 23-25, will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic — which canceled the planned live event in Las Vegas.
While everyone involved will be watching from their respective couches, draft rooms or elsewhere, at least one aspect of the draft will remain the same. Well, sort of.
The top 58 prospects in the draft will still get to participate virtually, the NFL announced on Thursday. It’s not clear how those prospects will participate, though that is expected to be revealed in the near future.
According to the league, high-profile players like reigning Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa are among those who will virtually attend. The full list can be found here.
The altered draft has been the target of plenty of complaints in recent days, especially after it was officially announced that it would be held virtually. Many teams and league personnel were upset with commissioner Roger Goodell’s directive to not complain publicly about the draft changes, while others are extremely concerned about potential technological issues that could come with it — including security, loss of communication and even the fear of letting IT personnel entering coaches' homes to set up the proper equipment, which could spread the coronavirus even more.
Regardless, the draft is moving forward. And while they won’t be walking up to the stage and shaking Goodell’s hand after being drafted, having players involved will at least bring a small sense of normalcy to an otherwise unusual draft.
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