Some of the best moments of the NFL Draft each year are seeing the reactions of players as they hear their name called by Commissioner Roger Goodell, fulfilling their dreams of being selected by an NFL team.
Camera crews stationed in the Draft's green room would capture the moment a player hears his name called and viewers could see that emotional reaction. He would be smiling, or shedding tears of joy, as he hugs friends and family members. In later rounds, other top prospects might have camera crews stationed at their homes, ready to film similar reactions when the player gets the phone call.
This year, though, due to COVID-19 and the restrictions around large gatherings, the entire NFL Draft will be held remotely. This means that no players will gather in the green rooms, teams won't have representatives on the main floor, and the Commissioner won't greet players with a handshake and hug when they come on stage.
However, the NFL is making sure the show still goes on, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the tech partners ensuring the success of the first remote Draft. Because of AWS and its compute, networking, scalability, and security capabilities, fans will still have the opportunity to witness the moment a player's name is called, and the reactions associated with that moment from the player, coaches, team personnel, and the Commissioner.
Beginning with the first round on Thursday, April 23, and lasting through all seven rounds during the three-day NFL Draft, AWS is supporting the remote event to ensure that over 100 live feeds are running successfully, creating a seamless experience for the NFL, teams, coaches, players, fans, and everyone watching.
Leading up to the Draft, the NFL sent over 150 smart phones to top prospects, coaches, teams, and personnel with instructions on how to set them up and keep them running during the Draft. AWS is hosting the "always-on" streaming with capacity to support the additional demand happening all at once—making sure that when ESPN and NFL Network cut to the live feed of any of the 150-plus available shots, there are no interruptions.
With AWS, the NFL is ensuring that when the Commissioner calls a player’s name, the player reacts, the coach is excited about their pick, and team personnel are pumping their fists—all the emotions of every team and player are captured to enhance the viewing experience.
"As the pandemic unfolded and we heard about all the changes to this year's NFL Draft, our first thought was 'how can we help?'" said David Brown, AWS vice president. "We immediately began working with them on the challenge of pulling off a remote event of this magnitude, and through our size and scale, and the compute power AWS possesses; we think we're able to offer them solutions that many others cannot. We've put together a strong team across functions to support this—from walk-throughs, to rehearsals, to the live Draft—to ensure we are ready for anything."
While each NFL team has its own "war room" on Draft day, teams of AWS employees will be in their own "war room" supporting this event in real time. And, like the teams involved in the Draft, many AWS employees are doing this remotely as well, adding another layer of complexity to the event.
"To pull off an event of this magnitude—even in person—is difficult, but to try and do it remotely presents a whole other set of challenges. Fortunately, we have great partners like AWS to help us bring this Draft to life," said Michelle McKenna, CIO of the NFL."Our hope is to provide everyone with a unique and fun experience while still making sure the Draft runs as normally as it can—and also giving people a diversion from everything happening during this unprecedented time."
The 2020 NFL Draft starts April 23rd, Live on NFL Network, ESPN, and ABC.
  • Round 1: Thursday, April 23 at 8pm ET
  • Rounds 2-3: Friday, April 24 at 7pm ET
  • Rounds 4-7: Saturday, April 25 at 12pm ET