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NFL Draft: New Orleans Saints to make picks from brewery

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said that he is doing well after being medically cleared from COVID-19. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said that he is "doing well" after being medically cleared from COVID-19. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI | License Photo

April 2 (UPI) -- The New Orleans Saints are planning to select prospects for the NFL Draft later this month from a New Orleans brewery after the league closed the main event to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Saints head coach Sean Payton announced the move Wednesday during a conference call with reporters. The team has been holding draft meetings at Dixie Beer's brewery, a local established owned by the Benson family, who also own the Saints.

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Staffers will have their temperatures taken before entering the brewery and only six or seven will be in the room during the event, while practicing social distancing. The remainder of the Saints' staff will call in remotely to participate. The Dixie Beer brewhouse is 85,000 square feet.

"There's plenty of space," Payton said. "I'm kind of like the guy they all want us to sit away from, and I'm like 'I'm the safest guy in the room here' and then the monitors have all the scouts and everyone else [conferenced in]. So total people involved in the meeting might be 20, total in the room would be six or seven."

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Payton said the facility is clean and the team has a draft board and seven monitors set up for the draft. The veteran coach tested positive for COVID-19 on March 19 but said he was cleared five days later.

"This is where we're going to be," Payton said. "This is where we're planning on setting up shop for the draft and we're operating accordingly."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to all 32 teams last week to inform them the draft would go on as scheduled from April 23-25. NFL teams are required to make their selections from remote locations -- not team facilities -- while abiding by social distancing guidelines and not allowing more than 10 people in a room.

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The 2020 NFL Draft was originally planned, as it usually is, to be a fan-friendly event in Las Vegas before Goodell canceled public events last month.

All NFL-related player physicals have been indefinitely suspended and the league has stopped pre-draft visits to team facilities, resulting in teams using video conferencing to virtually meet with prospects.

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