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NFL wants April draft to go on as scheduled despite GMs’ recommendation

By Tommy Fradenburg

Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local | See @tommyfradenburg

Despite a general manager subcommittee’s recommendation to NFL Commissioner Roger Godell to postpone the 2020 draft, the league is, for now, standing firm,

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According to ESPN, Godell said on Tuesday that the draft should still go on April 23-25 as scheduled. Amid concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak, the draft set for Las Vegas has already undergone changes. The league first announced the draft would happen without fans. Later the announcement came that it was no longer going to happen in Vegas, moving to a television studio in Los Angeles.

But it is not the desire to draft specifically in Las Vegas that has teams hoping to postpone; but an inability to evaluate talent.

With many team’s facilities closed, travel discouraged, and ban on pre-draft visits,  coaches and executives can no longer meet prospects face to face.

“I’d be personally in favor of delaying the draft, so that we can get some of the work done that our scouts and our personnel people ordinarily do,”  New Orleans Saints GM Mickey Loomis said on The Peter King Podcast“And then just the logistics of trying to conduct the draft, with not having access to your draft rooms and your offices, creates a lot of logistic problems.”

Why Postpone?

While the Coronavirus has wreaked havoc around the real and sporting world, NFL free agency has raged on.

Despite being unable to meet person-to-person in most cases, the 2020 free agency period has been as active as ever. Big names like Tom Brady and Todd Gurley are just two to swap squads so far. By deeming it possible to evaluate talent well enough to sign free agents, Godell could argue drafting is also possible.

But those are two different scenarios.

With proven NFL players, there is better, more reliable tape to prove a player’s worth. By showing their potential against other professionals, a player’s game film and reputation carry a certain amount of weight. College players looking to break into the league don’t have those same resources.

Take former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for example.

In the fourth quarter of a November blowout win over Mississippi State, Tagovailoa went down awkwardly. After rolling on the ground in pain he left the game immediately, ending his college career with a hip injury.

While Tagovailoa is unmistakably talented, there is no guarantee he will come back from his injury the same player; no matter how good he may look in a workout video. Videos can be deceiving or doctored to mislead viewers, and while there is no evidence Tagovailoa did this intentionally; most scouts and coaches will likely feel under-informed without seeing these athletes in person. With a player like Tagovailoa, who will face franchise-changing expectations wherever he is drafted, the stakes of the April event are incredibly high.

Godell has the support of some of the NFL’s owners for maintaining the draft date, but one league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini its far from a united front.

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“I think a lot of owners aren’t sold on keeping it on schedule,” the source said. “Of course the power owners are calling the shots. Plus, add to the fact that April is going to be the toughest month with this virus. It’s really a poor look.”

At the time of publishing, the United States has the highest number of active Coronavirus cases in the world at 59,447.

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