Next week's NFL draft won't look like any of the "Player Selection Meetings" from recent memory as the league adapts its presentation to an environment altered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Start with the fact that Commissioner Roger Goodell will be revealing the selections from his home in Westchester County, New York, a set-up that will definitely exude the vibe of a fantasy draft. Goodell will be practicing social distancing at a time when New York City and Long Island are two areas of the country hardest hit by the virus.
The "event" will be simulcast on ESPN and NFL Network with ABC joining for Rounds 4-7 on April 25. ABC will have its own presentation for the first three rounds on April 23 and 24.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell prior to Super Bowl LIV in Miami. (Photo: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports)
The main draft telecast will be broadcast from ESPN's studios in Bristol, Connecticut, where, according to the NFL, the network's team will "adhere to proper social distancing guidelines and local workplace rules due to COVID-19. Draft hosts and a limited number of commentators will be in-studio while a majority of the analysts, reporters and other experts will contribute remotely from home studios."
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ESPN's Trey Wingo will serve as the primary host with familiar faces like ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Louis Riddick and NFL Network's Rich Eisen, Daniel Jeremiah and Kurt Warner among the primary contributors.
"We recognize the challenging times we are living in, but we are looking forward to presenting the 2020 NFL Draft and providing some hope for football fans everywhere," said ESPN vice president Seth Markman in a statement.
"This year, we are further excited to collaborate with the NFL Network creating an All Star broadcast. We are also committed to producing the ESPN/NFL Network and ABC shows in the safest possible environment for our announcers and production teams."
There will also be a "Draft-A-Thon" component, designed to, according to the league, "pay tribute to healthcare workers and first responders in a variety of ways – including raising funds for the work being done to combat the impact of COVID-19. Funds will help support six national nonprofits and their respective COVID-19 relief efforts."
The six organizations that will receive support are American Red Cross; CDC Foundation’s All of Us: Combat Coronavirus Campaign; Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund; Meals on Wheels America’s COVID-19 Response Fund; Salvation Army and United Way’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund.
In addition, 58 draft prospects will participate virtually, including LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who is widely expected to be selected first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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