One piece of collateral damage from the spread of the coronavirus is the impact it will have on professional sports drafts.
The NFL draft will proceed but not be held in Las Vegas, costing the city tens of millions of dollars. MLB is reportedly thinking about canceling its draft, which seems drastic (and won't happen), but it's hard to scout players who aren't playing. The NBA draft will almost certainly be pushed back until after the 2019-20 season ends, if there is a conclusion to that season.
Locally, the coronavirus has canceled the Nevada Wolf Pack football team's pro day, which was scheduled for March 30, according to a post by the program's assistant director of strength and conditioning Conor Clark. Pro day is always an important showcase for Wolf Pack players who don't get an NFL combine invitation, and none got such an invite this year.
"Not sure what’s next for these guys, but they are still grinding," Clark said in an Instagram post. "There won’t be a Pro Day on campus, but we will find a time for them to showcase themselves before the draft ???????? #MONSTERSareCreated #nfldraft2020 #predraftprep #kickedoutofwork"
Perhaps Malik Reed doesn't get a chance with the Denver Broncos last season if not for his pro day. Same with Wes Farnsworth and the Dolphins. You can almost certainly bank on Jace Billingsley not becoming an NFL player if he didn't get to participate in pro day with the Wolf Pack a couple of years ago.
We caught up with Nevada punter Quinton Conaway for a segment of NSN Daily that will be posted Friday. He has been working out for pro day on campus but said a number of players have gone to pre-draft camps. Those can run between $5,000 and $10,000. And now those players won't get the chance to display their work in front of NFL scouts, at least not in your traditional on-campus pro day format. They might not be able to do so at all given how much of the country has been put on lockdown with the draft around the corner (it will start April 23).
NFL scouts did appear at Wolf Pack practices throughout the season, so teams are at least familiar with Nevada's draft-eligible players. But that's a lot different than having verified bench press, agility and 40-yard-dash numbers. I'm sure the Wolf Pack could provide teams with some of those numbers.
The Wolf Pack was not crazy deep with senior draft prospects to start with. No Nevada players are expected to be drafted next month, but some could have made camps with strong senior days. Among the potential invitees are cornerback Daniel Brown, linebacker Gabriel Sewell, wide receivers Kaleb Fossum and Dominic Christian, running back Kelton Moore, offensive lineman Jake Nelson and Conaway.
Northern Nevada is expected to have a high-round draft pick in McQueen High alum Brandon Aiyuk, a wide receiver from Arizona State. Aiyuk is projected as either a first- or second-round draft pick. If he does go in the first round, he'd be the first Northern Nevada high school alum to do so since Reed High's Shawn Knight in 1987. He was the 11th pick of the draft and remains the only local prep player to go in the first round.