The NFL draft looks like a giant spectacle for those in attendance and the global TV audience.
What they don’t see is the giant effort made behind the scenes to ensure the event occurs without a hitch.
As the draft unfolds, each team calls the NFL’s New York office to deliver the name of its selection. That is then relayed to a player personnel representative tucked away near one of two stage entryways backstage.
Stacks of cards with each prospect’s name are laid out next to the official in Las Vegas. As the picks are made, the team’s name and pick number is written on the prospect’s card and delivered to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to announce to the crowd and the TV audience.
The back of house for Las Vegas’ draft includes the prospect green room in a ballroom of the Caesars Forum convention center. Each of the 21 invited prospects hung out there Thursday night with their families on living room-style sectionals. After their name was called, they had the chance to celebrate the achievement with their loved ones before walking from the green room to the stage.
That journey includes passing through a door that was specially added for the NFL draft during construction of the building.
“Since this facility was being built in real time, while we were getting ready for the event, we worked closely with our partners at Caesars to add a door that’s uniquely placed that allowed us to strategically get our prospects out of the building in connection with our theater,” NFL Director of Event Operations Eric Finkelstein said. “They accommodated us, so I think they’re referring to it as the NFL draft door.”
When a pick was made during the first round, a staffer in a room backstage worked feverishly to press the player’s name onto the proper team’s jersey to be presented by Goodell on the stage. Multiple jerseys from each team were hung on a rack, with the nameplates of each prospect ready to go for when they got picked.
Another green room is within walking distance of the stage, a journey Goodell made 32 times Thursday night. Special guests are housed in that room until they appear onstage.
From current Raiders Derek Carr and Darren Waller to Hall of Famers Marcus Allen, Tony Gonzalez and Franco Harris, the green room on Thursday was a who’s who of football.
Another ballroom in the Caesars Forum is full of members of the FBI, Homeland Security, Metropolitan Police Department, NFL security officials, various resort executives and others. In front of them are dozens of video screens, mainly for surveillance.
All areas of the draft’s footprint are highly monitored by the officials in the room, with a multitude of cameras at their fingertips. The ability to zero in on a person or area with any given camera gives them the upper hand during an event of the draft’s magnitude.
The team is so responsive that it identified a person it knew was going to jump into the Bellagio fountains and pulled him out almost as soon as he went in.
“Security was so tight that they had the individual out of the water before he got wet,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, said.
ShotSpotter, used in Las Vegas by Metro, is also in use as part of the safety and security operations. The technology would allow law enforcement to pinpoint where a gunshot went off if such an incident occurred. It also would allow for an immediate response by police and medical officials.
In all, about 4,500 people worked daily to make the draft happen, mostly unseen by the hundreds of thousands of people in attendance.
Contact Mick Akers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.