For the second year in a row, the Jets and Giants will pick among the top six in the NFL Draft. That is terrible news for fans because of the autumn pain that led to it. But it does make the last week of April mighty interesting.
Per tradition, ESPN and the NFL Network will lead the television coverage starting Thursday night, but there have been significant changes since last year.
This is ESPN’s 40th year televising the draft since it first proposed what seemed like an outlandish idea to then-commissioner Pete Rozelle.
The new wrinkle is that in addition to the cable network’s traditional, nuts-and-bolts coverage, its Disney-company broadcast TV sister station, ABC, will offer an alternate version for the first two nights. (The third day will be a simulcast.)
According to a 2,255-word news release on Disney’s plans, former ESPN and current “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts will anchor the coverage of Round 1 Thursday, along with the cast of “College GameDay.”
The idea is to tell casual fans about “the journey of NFL Draft prospects,” and to offer features such as a sense of the scene outside the draft itself in Nashville. “American Idol” judge and country music artist Luke Bryan will be part of Thursday’s show.
On ESPN, Trey Wingo will host a more traditional program, featuring the network’s cast of draft and NFL analysts and reporters.
ESPN Radio will cover every round for the first time, featuring former Giants defensive lineman and current ESPN Radio host Chris Canty and former Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum among its analysts.
Disney said its coverage of the year’s biggest non-sports-event sports event will include seven production trucks, 57 cameras and 125,000 to 150,000 feet of fiber optic cable.
ABC will replace Fox as the broadcast TV home for the draft. Last year, Fox partnered on and simulcast the NFL Network’s coverage, and brought in lead game analyst Troy Aikman as part of its team.
This year the NFL Network will do its own thing, chronicled in a 3,962-word news release, including 76 hours of live draft week coverage that began on Sunday.
It said its 23 draft “war room” cameras will be a new record. The Jets and Giants are among the 23 teams participating.
This will be NFLN’s 15th year carrying live, on-location draft coverage, hosted by Rich Eisen, who will be joined by the network’s analysts and reporters. Deion Sanders again will interview draft picks after they are selected.
Coverage of the first round begins at 8 p.m. on Thursday, but at 6 p.m. Michael Irvin and Melissa Stark will interview prospects on a draft “red carpet.”
In addition to ESPN Radio’s seven-round coverage, SiriusXM Satellite Radio will carry all seven rounds and Westwood One has Round 1.