The NFL is preparing for a draft unlike any other. Responding to business closures and social distancing recommendations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the league will conduct the crown jewel of its offseason calendar remotely.
And the Detroit Lions are ready.
Speaking with local media through a Zoom chat Friday morning, general manager Bob Quinn explained his personal setup for next week's event and expressed confidence in the team's preparedness.
"I'm not going to give you a picture of my setup here because I really don't have that capability right now, but basically, I'm at my house," Quinn said in front of a virtual Lions-themed background. "I have a home office that I use occasionally during the season and occasionally during the offseason, not very much, but I'm staring at a TV to my right. I have three monitors to my left, I have two laptops, I have a huge, what we call our draft phone, I have my home phone, I have two cell phones and I have a printer. That's kind of my setup that I'm looking at right now."
In normal circumstances, ownership, the front office and the coaching staff would all gather in a large conference room at the team's practice facility in Allen Park, where draft boards would line the walls and face-to-face communication can help sort out any issues in the fast-paced environment of the event.
"Obviously, we can't replicate our draft boards in my small home office here, so all the draft boards, the needs boards, will be emailed, printed," Quinn said. "They'll probably be screen-shared on some platform, which we're still evaluating which one we want to use next week."
As for all the staff that would be in that conference room, they'll still be connected virtually, through two separate video conferences.
"We're going to have one (video conference) with the smaller group," Quinn said. "There's going to be eight or 10 of us in that virtual draft room. Then we're going to have a secondary call with everybody else that would be in the room, from the scouting guys that live in different parts of the country that are normally in the room for a normal draft."
The main tables in the draft room would typically include Quinn, multiple members of the Ford family, coach Matt Patricia, team president Rod Wood, vice president of player personnel Kyle O'Brien, director of player personnel Lance Newmark and director of college scouting Dave Sears.
Quinn said the Lions are still deciding on which video conference platform the team will use, but have narrowed it down to Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
The biggest questions teams are currently facing are about their contingency plans, in the event an internet connection or phone line falters. For the Lions, they have backup plans on top of backup plans.
"We'll have redundancies on everything," Quinn said. "We'll have at my house, at coach Patricia's house, we'll have redundancy for internet, redundancy for power, redundancy for phones. I would say our IT department, they've done an outstanding job of setting us up.
"I feel really good about the setup. I feel confident it's going to work. Everything we've done in the last four weeks — I think I've been home in this home office, yesterday was a month. Everything has worked good. Obviously, in the last week or so I'd say I've gotten more stuff delivered to my house for technology just for the draft itself. Some of that stuff is getting tested out the next couple days with the league, in terms of the camera that's going to be here."
Quinn said he and his staff will continue to conduct trial runs up until the draft, which starts Thursday night and runs through Saturday. Additionally, the league is conducting a mock draft on Monday and the Lions intend on participating in that, as well.