What unprecedented NFL Draft 2020 will look like in ESPN’s hands

The NFL Draft 2020 is expected to begin with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell from his home or office introducing the first pick.

From ESPN’s Bristol studios, host Trey Wingo will set up his analysts. The network’s top draft commentators, Mel Kiper, Booger McFarland and Louis Riddick, will give their takes on presumptive first pick Joe Burrow as his college highlights fill the screen. Kiper, McFarland and Riddick will be at their homes.

Then, according to sources, Burrow, with a camera that the NFL plans on providing all draft prospects, will — if all goes right — film his reaction from his draft night location. In an Instagram world, this seems feasible, even if it is not as professional-looking as in the past.

It could be followed by ESPN draft interviewer Suzy Kolber talking with Burrow.

The NFL Draft is scheduled to start in a little more than two weeks. The Post has talked with several sources to find out what viewers will see come April 23-25.

ESPN and NFL Network declined to comment because the plans are not finalized. For example, the idea of having cameras with GMs, who will be isolated from the rest of their front office, will be broached, but it is uncertain if it will happen.

Usually, ESPN/NFLN have cameras in some teams’ “war rooms.” With the isolation rules put in place by the NFL because of coronavirus, teams may not be as amenable to the intrusion. Goodell will lead the draft with his home or office the most likely filming spot, though an alternative, isolated location still could be brainstormed.

What is being formulated is that the draft’s television show will be like nothing you have seen and very familiar, all at once.

NFL Draft 2020 ESPN Mel Kiper Jr.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., Booger McFarland, Louis RiddickAP

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the NFL to shift out of its original plan of holding festivities in Las Vegas. In response, as NBC Sports’ Peter King has mentioned, the show now is expected to have a fundraising component for COVID-19 relief.

While the draft will be televised on ESPN, ABC and the NFL Network, it will mainly be a Bristol production. The NFL Network is still without a control room in New York or Los Angeles, so the broadcast will emanate from ESPN’s headquarters.

Sources said that, while ESPN’s main crew of Wingo, McFarland, Riddick and Kiper will lead the draft, it will incorporate the NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, Kurt Warner and draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah.

Others could be added, but that NFLN trio is in. In normal years, NFLN has Deion Sanders interview players while ESPN has someone like Kolber do it for their broadcasts. This will be consolidated into one this year, meaning Sanders likely won’t be involved.

So, at least right now, it is expected to be more of an ESPN draft than an ensemble presentation. Its top information guys, Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, will be on the program, while others are not yet assured.

On ABC, which broadcast the draft for the first time last year, the aim again will be to focus more on a human interest and college feel. Rece Davis, host of “College GameDay,” will be in the studio in Bristol, while his usual pregame partners, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack, will broadcast from their homes. Draft analyst Todd McShay will also be from his home on ABC.

Maria Taylor and Jesse Palmer are also expected to be incorporated.

Last year, when the draft was in Nashville, ABC featured an interview with Taylor Swift and some live music. Sources said ESPN/ABC is efforting to potentially have a musical component without, of course, a live audience. Presumably, the act would be from the performer’s home.

Both broadcasts will feature the regular video highlight packages that are customary after a player is drafted.

With the draft still more than two weeks away and with the world in flux over COVID-19, the plans are subject to change. But this is the groundwork that ESPN/ABC and the NFL are working on.


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