NFL ends in-person, pre-draft visits with players

The NFL is ending all pre-draft visits until further notice as part of the league's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The league is prohibiting "all in-person, pre-draft visits involving draft-eligible players," the NFL communicated to general managers, head coaches and player personnel directors in a memo that was obtained by ESPN's Dan Graziano.

The move, which goes into effect at the end of Friday's business day, prevents draft prospects from visiting team headquarters and team personnel from attending pro days.

Teams may communicate with prospects via telephone or video conference, but they must report those instances to the league's player personnel department.

Falcons president Rich McKay said the lack of visits with players eligible for the draft won't have a major impact on the team's preparation.

"You've got to remember that when it comes to the draft as we sit here today, 95% of the hay is in the barn,'' McKay said. "We've been looking at these athletes for two years. We've had area scouts. We've had cross-checks. We've had December meetings. We had our combine meetings. And we'll have our pre-draft meetings. So this last cross-check time -- which is the ability to see them maybe work out one more time on campus or to bring them in and interview them -- do you wish you could have it? You do. But you can also operate potentially without it.

"The league gave us a way to do it by giving us video conference directly with the players. If a coach has not had a one-on-one with a player, you can set that up. And the coach can get comfortable. So I feel pretty comfortable that we can be ready as a league to conduct the draft.''

In the memo, restrictions are placed on the amount of communication that takes place between teams and players, including how many times one team can speak with one player (three times per week) and how long the communication can last (no longer than an hour). Violators of the new guidelines are also subject to league discipline.

The memo comes amid a wave of statements from individual teams announcing they were pulling their scouts and player personnel staff from the road amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The NFL draft remains scheduled for April 23-25 in Las Vegas.

Information from ESPN's Vaughn McClure was used in this report.