The NFL barred team personnel from entering training facilities starting Wednesday due to the coronavirus pandemic that is prompting many across the country to shelter in place. That's not a huge deal at this relatively quiet point on the league calendar, with free agency in the rearview and the NFL draft weeks away.
It's not ideal, with top-30 player visits prohibited due to travel restrictions in place for weeks. That also has eliminated pro days, creating a unique and difficult pre-draft process.
The NFL, however, has declined to postpone the draft to a later date. It will go on as scheduled from April 23-25, without fanfare that usually surrounds it.
The Raiders were set to host the draft in their new Las Vegas market, but all public events were cancelled due to restrictions on public gatherings. Then the event was moved out of the city entirely in favor of a safer process in a studio, with video conferenced check-ins with top prospects in a televised event.
Commissioner Roger Goodell imposed more restrictions in a memo to NFL teams that was leaked to the press Thursday stating that they cannot conduct the draft from their facilities as usual. The selection process must be done off-site.
"All clubs should now be doing the necessary planning to conduct Draft operations in a location outside of your facility, with a limited number of people present and with sufficient technology resources to allow you to communicate internally, with other clubs and with Draft headquarters," Goodell's memo reads. "Needless to say, we will be prepared to adjust to changed circumstance in the next several weeks, including the prospect of clubs being able to resume even limited operations within their facilities."
Moving the draft process would constitute a major headache for all teams. That includes the Raiders and the 49ers, who will conduct drafts in the Bay Area.
NFL teams run their draft in massive war rooms, with the general manager, head coach and often the owner heading the table. Scouts, personnel directors, the entire coaching staff and football operations people are all collaborating in one place, with a massive draft board ranking every eligible player. The list usually takes up an entire wall and includes players who will go undrafted.
Goodell said later in the memo that he would prefer teams don't discuss their issues with the press.
"Public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action," Goodell wrote.
Here's the memo in its entirety:
Commissioner Goodell sent out a memo to NFL teams tonight that the draft will go on April 23-25. pic.twitter.com/tYlHo3fKqC
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 26, 2020
Roger Goodell tells NFL teams to prepare for 2020 draft off-site originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area