NFL going virtual for upcoming draft

Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The NFL Draft will be a home-based event.

In a memo sent to 32 teams Monday, commissioner Roger Goodell revealed the April 23-25 draft will be a “fully virtual’’ event. All team facilities have been closed since March 13 and remain that way in response to the coronavirus pandemic. General managers and their personnel support staffs must handle their draft-day business “in separate locations.’’

The NFL determined to this latest and dramatic adjustment after consulting with public health officials, the competition committee and various league executives.

A good portion of the country is operating under “shelter-in-place’’ orders which have closed non-essential businesses.

“Because of these circumstances, clubs have been advised to prepare to conduct the 2020 draft entirely outside of their facilities and in a fully virtual format, with club personnel in separate locations and able to communicate with one another and draft headquarters by phone or internet,’’ Goodell said in the memo.

The Colts never have been behind the curve. They’ve been transitioning to “virtual’’ operations since early March.

“I’m in these Zoom meetings every day,’’ Frank Reich said last week. “Chris (Ballard) and I have talked a ton about this.’’

There are frequent video conferences linking Reich to his coordinators and those coordinators to their assistants. And Ballard is maximizing Zoom throughout the week to hook up with his scouts.

In his “Football Morning in America’’ column Monday, Peter King detailed how Ballard, assistant GM Ed Dodds and 19 scouts and coaches met via Zoom for 90 minutes last Thursday to discuss defensive tackle prospects.

“We had some pretty intense discussions about two guys,’’ Ballard told King. “We dug into the character of a couple guys and moved them down. It wasn’t that hard, compared to being in the same room.

“We’ll be prepared for anything on draft weekend, and we’ll have our work done. “All 32 teams will play by the same rules, so that’s fine with us.’’

In terms of the overall draft board, Ballard’s essentially has been in place since late February.

The Colts hold seven overall picks in the draft after sending the 13th overall pick in round 1 to San Francisco for defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

Listen to the Colts Blue Zone Podcast for weekly coverage and analysis of the Indianapolis Colts.

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