Will the NFL Draft Go Ahead? Teams' General Managers Want Selection Process Pushed Back Because of Coronavirus

The NFL and the general managers of the 32 franchises are reportedly at odds over whether the NFL draft should go ahead as planned next month.

The annual extravaganza was scheduled to run from April 23 - 25 in Las Vegas, but last week the NFL canceled all public events surrounding the draft after following guidelines put forward by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the coronavirus outbreak.

While all public events surrounding the draft have been scrapped, the selection process remains scheduled behind closed doors. Those plans, however, could be jeopardized by the teams' reluctance to proceed as scheduled.

According to ESPN, general managers of the 32 NFL franchises are concerned the current environment will pose a series of logistical challenge to the draft. Specifically, GMs believe certain teams may have to conduct the draft from home, while almost every franchise may struggle to ensure the players undergo physical and psychological examinations, given a number of teams have closed their facilities in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The New York Giants and the New York Jets, for example, would not be able to access their buildings during draft night, as New Jersey is currently under lockdown. The same applies to franchises based in California, like the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers and teams based in states that have implemented similar measures.

Such concerns are the reason why on Tuesday night the league's general manager subcommittee voted 6-1 in favor of recommending the draft be pushed back.

Upon announcing the cancelation of public events surrounding the draft last week, the NFL indicated it was "exploring innovative options" for how the process will be conducted. Aside from reiterating the draft will be televised as usual, other details haven't been forthcoming.

"This decision reflects our foremost priority — the health and safety of all fans and citizens," commissioner Roger Goodell said in his statement last week. "While this outcome is disappointing both to the NFL and to the Las Vegas community, we look forward to partnering with the Raiders, the City of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for a future NFL Draft."

Meanwhile, in a memo sent to the 32 franchises on Tuesday night, Goodell announced the league will implement workplace mandates mirroring those put in place by state governments, to "ensure that all clubs operate on a level playing field, and that the NFL continues to conduct itself in a responsible way at this time."

As of 6 p.m. local time on Wednesday, team facilities will be closed to all personnel, except for medical staff providing ongoing treatment to players, security personnel, technology personnel and independent contractors carrying out necessary work to maintain the facilities and their security.

The directives will be reviewed on April 8 after consulting public health authorities and medical experts.

Their implementation, however, will not prevent teams from signing players, evaluating draft-eligible prospects and selling tickets for next season.

"Many businesses and individuals throughout the country are experiencing and addressing similar issues," the NFL commissioner added.

"Please be assured that the NFL is well-positioned to meet these operational challenges."

The impact COVID-19 has had on the NFL has been relatively limited, compared to the disruption it has caused on the NBA, NHL, and MLB.

The former two have been forced to suspend the season due to the outbreak, while the latter has had to push the start of its campaign back indefinitely.

As of Wednesday morning, more than 55,000 cases have been reported in the U.S., with 801 deaths and 354 people recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

Over 18,900 people have died since the outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There are over 423,000 cases globally, with more than 108,000 recovered.

NFL, Roger Goodell
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media during a press conference prior to Super Bowl LIV at the Hilton Miami Downtown on January 29 in Miami, Florida. Cliff Hawkins/Getty