There are still a lot of unknowns about the state of the 2021 NFL Draft, which is scheduled to take place in Cleveland, OH at the end of April 2021. Where will the country be with the pandemic by that time? Will a vaccine have become widely available and effective? One would like to optimistically say “yes,” but only time will tell.
Because of the preparation involved, many other annual conferences (not related to sports) are already moving to remote conferences for 2021. The annual conference that I go to was supposed to be in Phoenix, Arizona in March 2021, and this past week, it was confirmed that it will be virtual again. The size and scale of hosting an NFL Draft is so massive in comparison. David Gilbert, President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, spoke with 19 Action News this week about where things stand, their weekly communications with the NFL, and being flexible on changing the date of the draft:
“Certainly, we’re thinking about it every day. Right now, there really isn’t any change. We communicate with the NFL multiple times every week, and we’re still planning for an in-person, great draft in Cleveland at the end of April.
No matter what, we’re going to have to remain flexible. It’s such an amazing opportunity for Cleveland, that we’re going to make sure we do everything we can to ensure that it’s as great as it’s going to be.
Everything’s going through the same thing to some level [making accommodations to protect fans]. Size, scale, and scope of different events. ... We are confident that if there is any need to change anything, whether it’s during that time, to another time, we’re going to do everything we can.”
Besides the pandemic, another thing to consider is the fact that many conferences may cancel college football this year, or postpone it to the Spring. That might offer another incentive to push the draft back later, to give scouts more time to evaluate players, hold workouts, etc. Or, maybe it’ll just be like 2020 again: everything goes virtual, and Cleveland re-schedules their draft for some time down the road. It will be a constantly evolving situation in the coming weeks and months, much like the season.