The NFL’s home draft of 2020 will be a one-year oddity.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Friday that the league informed clubs they will be allowed in their draft rooms for the 2021 NFL Draft, provided physical distancing and proper mask-wearing are followed, per a source informed of the situation.
Eating and drinking in the draft rooms will be prohibited, according to the memo.
Each team must submit its draft plan by March 26 for review and approval by Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer. Clubs also will be permitted to use third-party, offsite facilities with prior approval. Safety precautions, including distancing and masks, will be implemented in every draft room regardless of vaccination status.
The 2021 NFL Draft is scheduled to take place in Cleveland from April 29-May 1. As of now, it’s still on as planned with safety precautions, Pelissero added.
The 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and conducted in a virtual realm. Teams were not permitted to gather at club facilities to conduct their selections, instead meeting over video conference.
The “home draft” led to a cornucopia of entertaining situations during the three-day draft event: Coach and GM reactions, children joining the fun, outlandish home setups, and a special star appearance from Bill Belichick’s Alaskan Klee Kai named Nike.
The virtual draft humanized the selection process and added entertainment value for the public.
Teams, however, are likely to relish the ability to get back to some semblance of normal, gathering in-person to discuss draft picks who could shape their clubs for years to come. Pelissero added that to keep some of the goodness stumbled upon in the 2020 draft, cameras will again be installed with each GM and head coach, wherever they are located — it’s presumed most will be in their draft rooms.
Hopefully, Belichick can make room to bring Nike along once again.