When Brett Veach sits in his basement Thursday on the opening night of the 2020 NFL Draft, he’ll be flanked by two key components.
One is an IT guru on-site in case of an internet outage or technical glitch. The other: A security guard.
“Just in case people don’t like your picks (so) they’re not knocking on your door or ringing your doorbell,” the Chiefs general manager joked during a video conference with media members Thursday.
Veach’s setup in his at-home work station will be unlike anything he’s ever taken part of on draft night. One computer monitor is reserved for communication with head coach Andy Reid. On another, owner and CEO Clark Hunt. In the background is a family photo, a framed photo of “Do we have time to run Wasp?” and a Sports Illustrated cover of quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
His staff, coordinators and scouts will have the ability to enter and leave the chat room at his wish with the draft moving to fully virtual amind the COVID-19 pandemic. Thursday was the second of three mock trials league executives took part in with the league, hoping to knock out any logistic problems.
“We’ve been doing some mock drafts and throwing crazy scenarios just to be prepared,” Veach said. “But you really won’t know until the lights come on how it’s going to work.”
The most unique draft in NFL history will take place across basements — and not in Las Vegas, like planned — throughout the country for three days and seven rounds beginning Thursday. Instead of players being transported on boat to a stage at the Bellagio, general managers will shut their doors and hope kids are put to bed early not to disrupt an already hectic night.
“I think we have a plan,” Veach said. “I think it’s going to be smooth. We’re excited about it.”
The plan has formed over the past month or so as personnel moved to working from home. After two or three days, Veach said it’s now become a new normal to wake up and head downstairs. He even insists he feels like he’s in the office, only without person-to-person contact.
Though not always smooth sailing, drafting in the war room has always provided advantages to NFL teams. The biggest hurdle avoided is communicating under tight deadlines, like the Chiefs could face with the No. 32 and final pick in the first round Thursday.
“One thing I think every team is probably the most concerned about is just the flow and the effectiveness of communication,” Veach said. “I think the scenario we’re all playing through our minds is (you are) on the clock, and you’re about to turn the card in and, with 45 seconds left, a team comes in and presents a really interesting trade. When you’re in the office, you can just look to a guy. So just making sure we don’t have a slow connection during that 45 seconds.
“So that’s a little bit of a concern — just that last-minute trade that you get a phone call on the clock.”
The first round is allotted 10 minutes per selection, seven minutes for the second round, five for rounds three through six and four minutes in the final round. With commissioner Roger Goodell also leading the draft from home, 58 players confirmed to virtually participate in some form will not receive jerseys on night one.
And in a day and age with technology more widely available than ever, the Chiefs and NFL teams alike will rely on it to carve out the years to come in their organizations.