Thursday night on the stage at the Radio City Music Hall in New York, city the NFL will hold their annual Draft and you would have to live in a cave without wifi to miss all of the television, radio and broadband coverage.
Let’s start with the schedule which features round one of the draft starting Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET, Friday night will feature the second and third rounds of the draft and things start early at 6:30 p.m. The rounds four through seven will take place on noon ET on Saturday.
Television coverage is on ESPN and the NFL Network with radio on ESPN and broadband can bee seen on the Watch ESPN platform as well as on your computer or tablet on NFL.com
ESPN and NFL Network will once again battle it out for the normally large audience and once again the two sides have a gentleman’s agreement that will not give advance draft picks. Both networks have pledged not to show images of players on the phone in the green room at Radio City Music Hall and not to report pick-by-pick selections on the Twitter feeds of staffers prior to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the picks on the podium. That Twitter agreement carries through at least the first two rounds.
As is the case each year there are a few new faces on both networks and they both have an army of analysts and troops in field ready to cover the action.
The vitals: This is the 35th year ESPN will broadcast the NFL draft.
Staffing: The main set for Round 1 consists of host Chris Berman and analysts Jon Gruden, Mel Kiper Jr. and newcomer Ray Lewis. NFL insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will report from an additional set on all three days. Suzy Kolber will interview players following their selection. Trey Wingo will replace Berman on the main set for Days 2 and 3 and be joined by analysts Trent Dilfer, Kiper and Todd McShay. Front office insider Bill Polian will split time with Dilfer on the main set on Saturday and will weigh in on Friday and Saturday at different times from an additional pit at Radio City.
What’s New Ray Lewis. The former Ravens linebacker will be on the main set on Day One and his bosses assigned him 40 guys to focus on for the opening round. ESPN will have subtle changes this year on Days 2 and 3. The coverage will focus on the by pick selections. That means no cut- a-ways Bristol, everything stays on site in New York. Saturday there will be some interaction abut for the most part everything will be done with the focus on Radio City.
Always be prepared: ESPN already has 316 player highlight packages available. They will have 23 cameras at Radio City.
Troops in the field: ESPN’s reporters at team sites include Josina Anderson (St. Louis Rams), Bob Holtzman (Minnesota Vikings), Britt McHenry (Jacksonville Jaguars), Sal Paolantonio (Cleveland Browns), Michele Steele (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Ed Werder (Houston Texans).
The team: The main set for Round 1 consists of Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Mike Mayock, Steve Mariucci, and Michael Irvin. Deion Sanders will interview draft picks on stage. The Radio City Music pit includes insiders Ian Rapoport and Daniel Jeremiah. Kurt Warner will weigh in from a studio in Los Angeles. For Rounds 2-3, Eisen will host the main set with analysts Mayock, Charles Davis, and Brian Billick. Melissa Stark will handle the interviews in the Green Room. Warner will also weigh in on Day Two. For Day 3 (Rounds 4-7), the main set will be Eisen, Mayock, Davis and Jeremiah. The Saturday coverage will include Stanford coach David Shaw (11 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. ET) and Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher (3-5 p.m. ET).
New things to watch from the NFL Network: The NFL Network has added more talent to their coverage. Starting on Thursday night look for: Curt Warner to debut his Warner’s Corner segment in Los Angeles and when every quarterback gets picked, viewers will hear from him second. Look for NFL Network analyst and former Tampa Bay Buc Warren Sapp to talk about the defensive stars being taken. They will also with some college coaches including former Gator’s head coach now at Ohio State’s head coach Urban Meyer. You ca see him prior to Friday’s draft coverage at 5:30 ET p.m.
Be prepared: The NFL Network has about 2,500 player video highlight packages available — the most they’ve ever had. That’s tape on approximately 750 players.
Troops on the ground: Michelle Beisner (Rams); Albert Breer (Vikings on Thursday and Redskins on Friday); Stacey Dales (Patriots); Jeff Darlington (Jaguars on Thursday/Friday, and Dolphins on Saturday); Alex Flanagan (Seahawks); Rebecca Haarlow (Bears); Rich Hollenberg (Atlanta Falcons); Kimberly Jones (Giants on Thursday and Jets on Saturday); Aditi Kinkhabwala (Browns on Thursday; Ravens on Friday, and Steelers on Saturday; Randy Moss (Jets); Desmond Purnell (Cowboys); Omar Ruiz (Raiders on Thursday; Niners on Friday and Saturday; Mike Silver (Rams); Ari Wolfe (Eagles) and Steve Wyche (Texans).