SALT LAKE CITY — The NFL has moved its annual collegiate draft to the virtual realm.
But while no prospects or picks will be on hand to officially shake commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand in what has become among the most awkward rites of passage in pro sports, two former local standouts will be available virtually for the proceedings.
Utah State quarterback Jordan Love and Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson were two of 58 prospects invited to participate Thursday in the annual draft, which is scheduled to run April 23-25.
Logistics of the event are still being worked out, with each team scheduled to conduct its “war room” via online video and teleconferencing from their individual homes. The league is pushing for teams to bar employees from team facilities to practice social distancing due to coronavirus concerns, meaning all reception, interviews and announcement of each pick will be conducted via call.
Top prospects like LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, and Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young were also among the 58 invitees.
So, too, is Love, who has steadily risen to his status of projected top-10 pick. He’s currently projected as the No. 6 overall pick by the Los Angeles Chargers in NFL.com’s most recent mock draft — echoing the projection of ESPN’s Todd McShay a week ago.
Johnson is projected to go No. 19 overall, a first-round selection by the Las Vegas Raiders.
Love holds three Utah State career records in three seasons with the Aggies, totaling 9,003 yards of total offense, 12 career 300-yard passing games and four completions of at least 80 yards. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound signal caller from Bakersfield, California, finished his standout career last December with 8,600 yards, 60 touchdowns and 29 interceptions, ranking second in school history in passing yards, completions and attempts, and tied for second in touchdown passes.
Johnson, a 6-foot, 193-pound defensive back for the Utes, made waves nationally with a 4.50-second 40-yard dash posted at the annual NFL Scouting Combine. The junior from Fresno, California, earned All-American status in 2019 and is a two-time all-Pac 12 first-team cornerback, finishing his career with seven interceptions, 28 passes defended and 21 pass breakups, ranked 10th all-time in program history.
Former Utah running back Zack Moss tweeted that he was "one of the top-58 players to participate in the 2020 NFL Draft." His name was omitted from the full list at NFL.com as late as Thursday night, though.