Sports Take: NFL Draft full steam ahead despite risks

FILE - In this Feb. 25 file photo Denver Broncos general manager John Elway speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. NFL teams are having to rely more heavily on game film of college prospects as they prepare for the draft at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has halted business as usual. On Tuesday, Elway said in a conference call, "We'll just have to conclude the best we can from what we can see on the tape." Associated Press

By Braden Simmons | Reporter

The 2020 N.F.L. draft will not be pushed back amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Rumors were circulating around the league moving its draft and other league events back with the virus delaying or canceling the sporting world at the time.

The original plan for the draft was to be hosted in Las Vegas, the future home of the Raiders next season. The draft will go from April 25 to April 27 but shifts to an online format that will still be televised for fans nationwide.

The decision by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to keep the draft on schedule will have lasting ramifications for each team and the prospects trying to make a name for themselves.

The draft will be changed as they are not allowing the public event to happen, but teams are still required to prepare for the upcoming draft date with increased haste. Teams have been shut out of club facilities that will last until April 8th, giving teams very little time to prepare.

According to Roger Goodell, the postponing of the draft would leave uncertainty of when the pandemic would leave a window of opportunity to allow the league to reconvene events.

“Everyone recognizes that public health conditions are highly uncertain,” Goodell said. “There is no assurance that we can select a different date and be confident that conditions will be significantly more favorable than they are today. I also believe that the draft can serve a very positive purpose for our clubs, our fans, and the country at large.”

The public’s need for sports as a distraction is valid during the pandemic, but it can create a rushed product where the value of the draft is worse than it’s ever been. For teams, with no access to facilities, the ability to prepare to find the league’s next star will be more difficult than ever.

The top-level of draft prospects will barely be affected by the canceled pro days and limited travel for teams. These are the day one and two picks who were slated to be drafted in the first three rounds and were invited to the NFL scouting combine.

The draft moving forward is detrimental mostly to the players entering into the league this next year. Players that are on the fringe of making the draft needed their college pro days to prove to scouts they belong on their draft boards.

With pro days being canceled nationwide, many prospects are hoping their collegiate seasons are enough to make it to the professional level. Players have been killing themselves for the past months physically and mentally to perform at their respective pro days. They wanted to show the nation what they could be taking a chance on and that has been taken away from them.

A current NFL player like Kalan Reed, for example, the last pick of 2016 draft, was not invited to the combine or projected to make the NFL draft but on his pro day, Reed proved his worth and impressed the scouts to be drafted by the Tennessee Titans.

This example shows the power a college player can impact their draft stock by impressing teams on their pro-day. With the lack of that, the pool of players at the bottom will be muddled and hard for executives to make their decisions on the next professionals for the season ahead.

However, without pro days, the draft will push on to provide some semblance of sports for fans who have been in a drought of any events since early March. This draft may be good for the fans, but it could result in a worse product for the season to come for the NFL.