This year's top prospects won't have the opportunity to walk across a stage, hug commissioner Roger Goodell and take pictures with their new teams' jerseys after being selected in this year's NFL draft, but they will have the opportunity to participate in the draft's broadcast from the safety of their own homes.
The NFL announced Thursday night that 58 prospects will be virtual participants in this year's draft, including projected No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow and the top three prospects from last year's Ohio State team: Chase Young, Jeff Okudah and J.K. Dobbins.
Details on what exactly their virtual participation will entail have not yet been announced, but according to an NFL release, the participants will be featured on the NFL draft's television broadcast and across the NFL Media landscape.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year's draft will be conducted entirely online. The in-person event of the draft, which was set to be staged in Las Vegas, has been canceled. The draft will still be held on its originally scheduled dates, April 23-25, and televised on ESPN, NFL Network and ABC.
Due to the unusual circumstances, ESPN and NFL Network are expected to team up for a combined broadcast featuring analysts from both networks, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. This year's draft will also serve as a telethon to raise money for six charities – the American Red Cross, the CDC Foundation, Feeding America, Meals on Wheels, Salvation Army and United Way – and their efforts to combat the impacts of COVID-19.
Young and Okudah are projected to be top-10 picks in this year's draft – potentially both in the top three – while Dobbins is expected to be a first- or second-round pick.
The first round of the 2020 NFL draft will kick off at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, while the second round will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 24.