Postponing the 2020 NFL Draft is the only logical choice

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 25: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 25: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

General managers recommended to the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell that they postpone the 2020 NFL Draft. They shot it down.

Three days of insanity and elation are the culmination of weeks and months of scouting, mock drafting and so on — that’s the beauty of the greatest non-sporting sports event in the world: the NFL Draft (sorry, Selection Sunday). That’s what makes it all the more painful to state a simple fact amidst the coronavirus spread in the United States: The league and Roger Goodell must postpone the 2020 NFL Draft.

At first, I was indifferent about the NFL’s decision to keep the event on April 23-25, even after the league scrapped all in-person activities in Las Vegas. That surely would have been a sight to behold — but as long as they didn’t cancel the event altogether, I was fine. Honestly, a part of me was hoping it wouldn’t be postponed. And while that sliver of hope has dwindled, other fans and myself will continue to be consumed by the buildup.

However, with COVID-19 (a.k.a. the coronavirus) wreaking havoc through the world, health and safety has catapulted to the top of everyone’s priorities. Luckily, the NFL took action by wisely moving the draft from Las Vegas but they banned all visits and meetings at team facilities.

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That decision came after Pro Days were canceled as well, thus scrapping the hopes of countless players who wished to put on one last show for NFL teams. It’s all very unfortunate but it’s also very necessary. As you may have heard, these are unprecedented times, so they require unprecedented measures.

But the biggest issue here has been one that has yet to be solved. As the world has slowed to a halt, the NFL Draft process has been forced to trudge along. With all the changes and cancellations, teams have fewer opportunities to meet with players. That’s less time to gather information on people who could make or break your franchise.

Of course, there can be alternatives. Teams can conduct interviews via video chat. Players can submit workouts via video. (The Senior Bowl has graciously offered assistance with this.) Besides, if teams did their jobs well enough, shouldn’t they have all the information they need on a player? In an ideal world, absolutely.

An ideal world, however, doesn’t exist — especially today. Obviously, there are plenty of examples I can choose from but my favorite one is how the Chiefs knew that they wanted Patrick Mahomes after he visited the team on an official Top-30 visit.

Teams need this time to do their due diligence on players and put that final piece of the puzzle into place. While I’m sure front offices have found ways to adjust during this unparalleled situation, the league is still asking them to go into the biggest event of the offseason short-handed. It’s like going into a final exam, but instead of studying, you’ve been busy providing for your family and ensuring everyone’s health, all while feeling uncertain about what the next day entails.

General managers’ hands are tied, so it’s only fair that they are given more time to evaluate the future faces of their franchise. If conducted poorly, the draft will make countless people jobless. But don’t just take it from a 20-year-old college sophomore; take it from the general managers themselves.

On Tuesday, it was reported that the NFL’s general manager subcommittee recommended to the league that the draft should be pushed back. Some reports say the vote was even unanimous. The league shot it down.

The report coincides with another report that Roger Goodell has told teams to shut down all team facilities at 6 p.m. local time Wednesday, with a reassessment of the situation on April 8. In simpler terms, that means teams will be forced away from their headquarters for two weeks.

On ESPN Wednesday morning, Adam Schefter reported that some teams believe they won’t be able to draft in their own headquarters and could even rent out a hotel conference room. That’s ludicrous (and that’s saying it nicely).

Of course, things could get worse — and they probably will. Maybe in a month, the thought of a team gathering in a room for hours on end is as much a hazard as it is to pack 30,000 people in a basketball arena now. Maybe a dose of football is what the barren sports world needs to replenish for a bit. After all, NFL free agency has been awesome so far (unless you’re a Patriots fan).

Again, I applaud the NFL for making the right moves in ensuring the safety of its players and staff. But it’s time they make another move. Push the 2020 NFL Draft back. I would love more than anything for the draft to just be here already but it’s not about wanting the draft as fans. It’s about giving players more time to prove themselves. It’s about giving teams the chance to truly understand these prospects.

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The league needs to do anything they can to ensure that their teams are making the best possible decisions with the most possible information. Teams should be as comfortable as they can when selecting players because so much rides on drafting the right players. These are players who could define a franchise, for better or for worse. The NFL needs to do the right thing and listen to its employees: Postpone the 2020 NFL Draft.