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How the Falcons prepared for the NFL's first virtual draft


From the beginning, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, has been designed to deliver the best in class experience for fans.

As have others, the NFL has been challenged by circumstances of COVID-19 to look at new ways to conduct critical business, specifically the NFL Draft, by holding events virtually from homes all around the country. 

Utilizing the organization's core value of innovate continuously as a foundation, Mercedes-Benz Stadium technology leaders, along with AT&T, have created an infrastructure to allow for associates to work safely and seamlessly either from their offices around Atlanta or remotely. 

Working with AT&T has helped the Falcons be agile and nimble, allowing for seamless collaboration, starting with dedicated, high-speed internet connection that powers and connects Mercedes-Benz Stadium to the world. This partnership allows the organization to maintain consistent contact and communication to the Falcons' entire workforce via AT&T's wireless network, and even potentially reach right into teammates' homes using AT&T Fiber internet service.

During typical preparations for the NFL Draft, coaches and scouts work together constantly, meeting everywhere from offices pouring over video to huge draft rooms complete with a full-wall draft board.  In this disrupted 2020 draft season, the Falcons have been able to leverage the foundation already established with AT&T to demonstrate the ultimate efficiency in collaboration: Coaches and scouts were able to share screens, video chat and scout videos of prospects together – even though they remained thousands of miles apart. Key decision makers transitioned from analog, magnetic player draft boards to digital, content-rich boards where changes were shared instantaneously. And Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has been able to plan his draft moves and conversations as though he were sitting in his usual office.  

The Falcons are utilizing AT&T's capabilities for the 2020 NFL Draft across several fronts:

  • The Wide Area Network (WAN) supporting all the network / internet connectivity across all offices.
  • The cloud-hosted Phone System is via AT&T and Avaya. For the draft, office phones were easily added in key staff members' homes.
  • Redundant internet service was provided to staff homes via AT&T.
  • Cell phones utilized by staff during the draft are all via AT&T.
  • AT&T has assembled a task force to monitor and support the Falcons during the draft.

The organization's goal is to get the core business right but also explore what new technologies are out there to enhance businesses. The Falcons continuously experiment with innovative technology, and the coaching staff has been working with technology for a long time, it's core to their business. With Falcons owner Arthur Blank being on the NFL's audit committee that oversees cyber security standards, the team has always looked ahead and taken measures to ensure it is utilizing the best technology in the smartest ways.

With the help of AT&T's infrastructure, the Falcons have created a seamless and collaborative virtual draft environment that allows the team's football operations department focus on what they do best – finding the best players to become Atlanta Falcons and putting them in a position to win when they take the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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