PHILADELPHIA — Eagles coach Doug Pederson had to make a power move with the NFL draft just days away.
He had been operating out of his oldest son’s bedroom since the NovaCare Complex training facility closed, because his youngest son, Joel, had claimed the home office for his school work space. But Pederson has remedied that situation.
“Kicked our other son out of there,” he texted. “Took it back. We are good.”
Eagles vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl, meanwhile, somehow convinced his wife, Aimee, to let him take over the first-floor office she typically runs her business from. Aimee is currently working out of the kitchen and dining room, and potentially plotting her payback.
General manager Howie Roseman hasn’t had to do quite as much maneuvering. He has had a pretty sweet setup in his home office for a couple of years now, ever since Eagles vice president of football technology Pat Dolan hooked him up with “all the bells and whistles” he enjoys at work, should Roseman need late-night access to game tape or their scouting system.
It’s his kids that he has to worry about.
“It’s an issue,” Roseman (half?) joked.
“We are trying to figure out stuff to keep them busy during the draft. Normally, I’ll get text messages from my boys about stuff that’s going on with the draft and I won’t pay attention to them. Now the knocking on the door, we’re going to have to make sure we give them some things to do here to keep them busy. I think it’s a different dynamic, but when we are in the draft room, we have some position coaches that are doing the same thing, so we’ll pull on that.”
Like the rest of the NFL, the Eagles are working to get situated as best as possible in front of this week’s draft, an event that will be held virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic. Switching from a central command center to a remote operation has required a huge undertaking by the IT department, which had to build an infrastructure for about 12 homes — from that of team owner Jeffrey Lurie to those of the personnel department and medical staff — to match the capabilities at the training facility.
“Probably one of the hardest things now is that we are so accustomed to having a beautiful draft room that really could display almost unlimited amounts of information simultaneously, so that when we got these instructions from the league about how we will be carrying out the draft this year, it’s been a challenge to kind of condense the information that we have and display it to the parties that will be geographically diverse,” said Eagles broadcast and AV engineer David Sullivan, via the team’s website. “Thankfully, we’ve got a lot of great people, and tools and resources to do it, so a lot of our time right now is planning how we distribute that information, how we broadcast those images and screens and analyses and metrics — all of those different tools that we’re used to having. How do we take that and replicate it in all of those homes?”
The Eagles are among the clubs using Microsoft Teams software for their virtual meetings, which Roseman described as a “godsend.” He explained that they’ll organize the operation by have different “rooms” of people — some big, some small — for coaches, trainers and of course top decision-makers such as Lurie, Roseman, Pederson and Weidl.
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Each club will submit its draft selections to the NFL player personnel department through an all-32 teams site, which also shows the official time on the clock, trades that have been made and the like. The Eagles will have their senior director of college scouting, Anthony Patch, keep everyone updated on the picks that have gone before them and the amount of time on the clock.
Roseman will likely give the final click, but three separate team individuals are able to submit the pick, a league spokesman said. So, if there’s an issue at one person’s house, two other team executives could submit it. If a team is experiencing technological issues, the NFL player personnel department could stop the clock to ensure a pick is submitted or a trade occurs.
Some staff members remained a little fuzzy on what their draft-day roles would be as of late last week, and not everyone had assembled all the boxes of equipment and computer screens recently shipped to their houses.
But there is still a little time to work the kinks out. The Eagles have been running simulations on their own, and the NFL is holding a leaguewide mock draft on Monday to work out issues and get everyone as comfortable as possible with the process.
It’s going to be different. And yeah, there’s a chance a kid or two busts in on their general manager dad. But the Eagles, like the rest of us, are making do.
“Obviously, we have a state-of-the-art draft room, an amazing draft room, and we’ll miss that, and we’ll miss the contact,” Roseman said. “One of my things, as Andy [Weidl] knows, is before we start the draft, I go around and give fist-pumps to everyone in the draft room and after we make a pick, having that clapping and everyone is excited and watching the highlights together. We are going to try to do that. We are going to try to have all those things that we have there, and have those opportunities.
“Again, we are not making any excuses for this. There are people who are dealing with a lot worse than we are dealing with, and we feel fortunate that we have this opportunity to improve our football team next week.”