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Coaches, GMs prep for virtual NFL Draft from home

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and all other front office decision-makers will announce their 2020 NFL Draft choices from their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and all other front office decision-makers will announce their 2020 NFL Draft choices from their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

April 23 (UPI) -- Some NFL teams will embrace technology, while others plan to use a minimalist approach when general managers and coaches make picks from home for the 2020 virtual NFL Draft on Thursday night.

The electronic version of the annual selection process starts at 8 p.m. Eastern and will air on ESPN, the NFL Network and ABC. Viewers also can stream online or through apps.

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NFL franchises typically gather in war rooms, or designated areas at their facilities filled with front office decision makers. But that all changes this year because the league has closed team facilities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, teams will communicate with prospects through video conferences and submit draft choices electronically while personnel are separated to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

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Approaches differ

Several personnel decision-makers for NFL teams have shared what their draft rooms look like ahead of the event. Some have chosen multiple monitors and an entirely electronic format, while others have just one or two screens on top of desks covered with binders and loose papers.

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch tweeted a photo of his setup Monday. He will pick players from an office at his house, with seven monitors, three phones and a wireless keyboard on a desk.

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New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman plans to draft from a small desk that sits behind a couch at his house. Gettleman's setup includes a laptop, a large binder and piles of paper, presumably filled with information about prospects.

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid showed that you might not need a state-of-the-art setup to be productive in the draft. The Super Bowl LIV winner has a monitor and a laptop on a desk in the same room he has exercise equipment. He also has another desk for binders and other football information.

Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco's setup includes multiple laptops, tablets and neatly stacked papers on a dining room table. He also has two large monitors in his draft room.

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"I do like to see faces when I ask questions to see how they answer," Telesco told reporters Friday. "It's not a substitute for being in the same room, but it's the best that we can get."



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Cincinnati Bengals front office executive Duke Tobin will make the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but doesn't have much technology in his draft room.

Tobin's home setup includes an aging desktop computer on top of a folding desk and another desktop computer on a separate desk. Tobin also has a mounted flat-screen TV in his makeshift draft room.

Denver Broncos general manager John Elway and Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider might have the most monitors for draft day.

The Broncos posted a picture of Elway's setup, which includes a long row of screens lining two walls. Elway also has a table in the middle of his living room that includes additional monitors and notes. Schneider said he has 25 screens in his draft room.



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Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has an organized setup. His draft room includes a six-monitor computer, two additional monitors, three laptops and a printer.

Some glitches

The NFL has attempted to streamline the 2020 draft process, but hiccups could happen. The league conducted a rehearsal for the draft Monday and used it to practice communication, trades and more. Reports of technical glitches and bandwidth issues surfaced after the trial run.

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn said his team's information technology director, Steve Lancaster, will be stationed in a Winnebago in his driveway during the three-day draft in case Quinn has technical issues.

Each team with a first-round pick will have 10 minutes to make its selections Thursday.

General managers and team decision-makers also must battle in-home distractions. Bears general manager Ryan Pace said his wife ran over one of his power cords with a vacuum, which resulted in his screens powering off in his draft room.

"During the draft, there will be someone from IT here, just if something happens," Pace said. "But I don't expect [anything bad to happen]. We've got a lot of fail-safes and fall-backs and preventative measures in place."

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Some coaches and general managers, including Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff, have voiced concern about the draft possibly being hacked.

"We have spoken individually to each of the clubs about their setup," an NFL spokesman said. "The clubs are ultimately responsible for their communication systems among their staff. We have provided best practices.

"At the league level, we are working closely with our tech partners to ensure a smooth operation throughout the three days. We are not disclosing our cybersecurity measures other than to say they are comprehensive and thoughtful," the spokesman said.

The NFL can stop the clock when a team is making its selection. Representatives from all 32 teams will submit selections on a website. Clubs also can call in to the player personnel department or make their picks on a league-wide conference call if the website doesn't work. Three people from each team have permission to submit a pick.

The NFL's partners for the draft include Bose, Microsoft, Verizon and Amazon Web Services.

Bose provided more than 130 headphones to assist in communications. Microsoft teams will assist with communications between the league and teams.

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Verizon helped to secure more than 100 phones and will assist with live broadcast video. AWS Cloud will help deliver video feeds of draft prospects, college coaches and NFL personnel throughout the broadcast.

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