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NFL Draft to Proceed as Scheduled, Public Events Canceled

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The NFL is proceeding with the 2020 draft as scheduled on April 23-25, but they have canceled all public events in Las Vegas amid COVID-19 concerns, according to a statement from the league Monday.

The announcement comes a day after the CDC’s recommendation that gatherings of 50 or more people be postponed or canceled for the next eight weeks.

The draft will still be televised, and the league says it is “exploring innovative options for how the process will be conducted.”

“This decision reflects our foremost priority – the health and safety of all fans and citizens,” said Commissioner Roger Goodell. “While this outcome is disappointing both to the NFL and the Las Vegas community, we look forward to partnering with the Raiders, the City of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for a future NFL Draft as well as evaluating opportunities for other major NFL events in Las Vegas in the future, including the Super Bowl.”

Holding the draft in Las Vegas was intended to serve as a welcoming party for the Raiders, who are set to begin play in their new home this upcoming season.

“After careful consideration, the Las Vegas Raiders, the NFL, the NFLPA and the LVCVA have decided to cancel the 2020 Las Vegas NFL Draft celebration,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a statement Monday. “Health and safety has always been our top priority, so despite it being a major disappointment, this was the right decision.”

The 2021 NFL Draft will be held in Cleveland, with 2023 hosted by Kansas City. A host city for 2022 has yet to be determined, so there is potential for a return to Las Vegas in two years.

NFL

Report: Rift Between NFL, Teams on April Draft

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While the NFL plans to go ahead with the 2020 Draft as scheduled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, general managers around the league reportedly want to see it pushed back, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini and Adam Schefter.

The NFL’s General Manager sub committee suggested to commissioner Roger Goodell that the draft be postponed, a recommendation that the league apparently ignored.

Teams are concerned that others will have an unfair advantage in preparing for the draft, with some teams still having access to their facilities while others do not. They are also concerned about not being able to do their normal due diligence scouting prospects, such as attending pro days, administering physicals and psychological testing and conducting interviews.

Commissioner Goodell put those concerns of unfairness to rest in a memo to teams Tuesday night, closing all league facilities moving forward.

While Goodell’s decision should help alleviate some of the worry amongst the general managers, teams now must focus their attention to the challenge of setting up their draft rooms remotely.

With the draft exactly one month away, there is still plenty of time for the league to change its mind. Still, no one with actual decision-making power around the league seems eager to reschedule.

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NFL

Mic Drop: Tom Brady Leaves Patriots

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Mike Asti cautions Steelers fans about piling on Patriots fans too much because of Tom Brady’s departure.

 

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Analysis

Steelers Adeniyi, Skipper Will Get Chances to Step Up at OLB

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To the surprise of almost no one, the Steelers released tenured veteran outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo on Monday.

Chickillo was a late-round pick that the Steelers had kept around as a special teams ace and rotational pass rusher over the past few seasons that certainly was not going to live up to his scheduled $6 million-plus salary cap hit. While Chickillo’s departure will be benefit for the salary cap situation, his departure will result in a lack of depth behind starters Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt and be one of several holes opening up on special teams with Tyler Matakevich also leaving and Roosevelt Nix looking like a likely departure.

Now, it is certainly possible the Steelers go out and draft a replacement. They might very well take one early in the draft and general manager Kevin Colbert has said it’s a deep draft class amongst edge rushers.

However even if the Steelers don’t look outside the organization, they should be able to turn to Ola Adeniyi and Tuzar Skipper to compensate for lost depth. However, given who they have on the roster right now, just how much of a drop off is there between Chickillo and those two youngsters?

An immediate breakdown of Adeniyi would be what has he actually done? Understandably, he has been great in two consecutive preseasons and training camps. He has dismantled all the guys he has faced in the preseason. In his rookie year, he led the NFL in sacks during that preseason. When he tore his meniscus last year, he was tied for the lead in sacks during that preseason too. He has been productive in the reps against the backups, but nothing has shown up yet in meaningful games.

His biggest moment on that stage so far was the botched roughing the passer call for his hit on Lamar Jackson. He is, as of now, a massive question mark pending on his development.

He has been more productive than Chickillo due to his bull rush and heavy hands, but in terms of actual in-game production, there has not been much. The drop off on special teams might be the thing to notice. Adeniyi’s weakness is moving in space, and even though he was not horrible on special teams, Chickillo was clearly better. It is not a massive drop off at all, but we have not seen that productivity yet. In terms of holding the edge against the run, I do trust Adeniyi to do that.

Now, moving onto Tuzar Skipper. He was a training camp and preseason darling that got the ax after the preseason and then circled back to the Steelers by mid-season. But after that, we never really saw him at all. So, in other words, in real, meaningful reps, we just do not know what Skipper’s prognosis is in the NFL. Everything we saw at training camp and in the preseason was fantastic. At the very least, he showed he could be a quality special teamer, which is key. Other than that, Skipper is still a mystery.

So, is there a great big drop off from Chickillo to Adeniyi and Skipper? In terms of pass rush ability, no way. Chickillo was nonexistent, but Adeniyi and Skipper both have given significant flashes of pass rush ability. In terms of run defense, Skipper is more of a question mark, but Adeniyi certainly holds his own here. Adeniyi has proven to be a sure tackle and Chickillo missed his fair share on the edge and lost outside contain far too often.

The real battle will be replacing his special teams contributions. Chickillo was a quality special teamer. Skipper showed off some really impressive special teams ability in the preseason. Adeniyi got in on a few tackles as well throughout the season. The drop off is not stark, at the very least.

Truth be told, the Steelers need to draft another edge rusher. That is the best way to take care of these depth problems. But make no mistake about it, the Steelers are not losing a ton by releasing Chickillo.

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