Virtually every game and sporting event the last two months around the world has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic public health crisis. This week the NFL is moving forward with its scheduled annual NFL Draft April 23-25. Ok, it won’t be the same.
The league previously had designated Las Vegas, Nevada as the host location. That part was canceled because Sin City, like most of America, has been shut down due to social distancing restrictions.
This week NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will conduct the draft from his New York home. Many general managers for the 32 teams were first critical of conducting a draft when they, the teams, were not able to do what they normally do.
Each team gets to bring in as many as 30 potential draft prospects and free agents for on-site team location interviews and workouts. But since March 10, all NFL team headquarters have been closed.
Another major issue of the GMs and personnel critics was security concerns and phone line tapping. Goodell ordered all the GMs to shut up and stop complaining under the threat of being potentially fined. So here we go: the league’s first-ever virtual draft. I agree with Goodell—we can’t stop living life as we know it in fear of the COVID-19.
This draft will be different and restricted, however. The teams have had more than enough time to view tapes and video of players. And remember, they also had the annual Combine in early March to which over 300 players were invited. This draft is loaded with wide receivers and lineman.
The Vikings will have 12 picks in this year’s draft, including two number-ones. They have suffered some significant losses, trading leading receiver Stefon Diggs to Buffalo for a number-one pick. They released starters tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Xavier Rhodes and lost Pro-Bowler Everson Griffen, Trae Waynes, Jayron Kearse, Stephen Weatherly and Mackenzie Alexander to unrestricted free agency.
No time for excuses or crybabies: It’s time to move forward. That time is this week. The team also lost both defensive and offensive coordinators, George Edwards and Kevin Stefanski, which could hurt continuity.
For a team that finished 11-7 as a Wild Card in the tough NFC North, this draft is critical to weather the storm. It’s unclear if the Vikings are reloading or rebuilding, particularly with major salary cap restrictions.