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ESPN, NFL Network Finalize Draft Plans

April 14, 2008 2:50 PM

Never does the reading of a list of names draw the kind of ad dollars and media attention as the NFL Draft. America is hooked as once again both ESPN and NFL Network will be on hand for round-by-round action from Radio City Music Hall on April 26 and 27, given the later start time for the picks (3 p.m.).

NFL Network is on deck to offer fans more than 44 hours of programming over the next two weeks leading up to the event, including a live four-hour “NFL Total Access” pre-Draft preview show on Saturday, April 26, at 11:00 a.m. ET. Sprint is the presenting sponsor of channel’s 2008 NFL Draft coverage.

“We’ve had a four month pre-show for the 2008 NFL Draft. It started with the Senior Bowl, followed by exclusive Combine coverage and we’ve continued evaluating the pool of talent and team needs on a daily basis,” said Eric Weinberger, executive producer, NFL Network. “The addition of Brian Billick and Charley Casserly rounds out the deepest roster of talent we’ve ever had on the Draft, solidifying that NFL Network continues to offer fans everything they want and need leading up to and throughout Draft weekend.”

Joining the team as talent will be former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick and longtime NFL general manager Charley Casserly. Rich Eisen hosts and will be joined by NFL Network’s year-round college football experts Mike Mayock and Charles Davis. NFL Network will also feature a pair of former first-round picks on location at Radio City Music Hall: Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders. Faulk is joined by fellow analysts Steve Mariucci and Jamie Dukes; Sanders contributes live draftee interview segments plus commentary, while Adam Schefter provides live reports from the Draft floor.

This year, for the first time, NFL Network will also have a pre-show prior to Rounds 3-7 on Sunday, April 27, at 9 a,m. ET. Peppered throughout Sunday’s coverage, there will be interviews with general managers and head coaches as well as debates between media personalities from various NFL markets regarding their team’s performance over the previous days.

On NFL.com, the draft will be carried live, with an up-to-the-minute Draft tracker, individual team pages analyzing current needs as well as breakdowns of each pick as it happens and a newly redesigned information panel featuring a real-time clock and up-to-the-minute selections. Additionally, exclusive video interviews from various team facilities will be available throughout the weekend as well as behind-the-scenes access from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

ESPN, meanwhile, will once again feature Chris Berman and Mel Kiper Jr. leading a team of analysts and reporters for ESPN’s 29th year of covering the NFL Draft. The channel will have 16 hours of live coverage over two days supplemented by Draft-related content on multiple ESPN platforms throughout the weekend, including ESPN Radio, ESPNEWS and ESPN.com.

Mr. Berman and Mr. Kiper will team with analysts Keyshawn Johnson and Steve Young, as well as Chris Mortensen at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Day 1 of the picks. In addition, “Monday Night Football’s” Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski will also be joined by “College GameDay’s” Kirk Herbstreit to provide on-site commentary, while reporter Suzy Kolber will conduct “green room” interviews with all the top prospects invited to the Draft.

Here’s the ESPN lineup for the two days of festivities.

ESPN – Day 1:

Radio City Music Hall in New York City --

Set #1: Chris Berman, Keyshawn Johnson, Mel Kiper Jr., Steve Young and Chris Mortensen

Set #2: Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Kirk Herbstreit

Reporter: Suzy Kolber

Bristol, Conn.: SportsCenter Special: On the Clock (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) --

Trey Wingo, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Merril Hoge, Todd McShay and Michael Smith.

NFL Team Sites --

Hank Goldberg (at Miami Dolphins), Rachel Nichols (Atlanta Falcons), Sal Paolantonio (New York Giants) and Ed Werder (Dallas Cowboys).

ESPN – Day 2:

Radio City Music Hall: Wingo, Kiper, Carter, Jaworski and Mortensen

Bristol: Tony Reali, Jeffri Chadiha, Smith, Charean Williams and Steve Wyche

ESPN Radio:

Colin Cowherd will host Day 1 coverage from Radio City Music Hall with ESPN.com NFL senior writer John Clayton, who will also provide updates from site on Day 2.

ESPNEWS (Bristol, Conn.) – Day 1:

Stan Verrett and Mike Hill will host “On the Clock” previews with McShay, Jeremy Green, Pat Forde, Chadiha, Qadry Ismail, Floyd Reese and Bob Davie beginning at 7 a.m.

Rece Davis will host Draft-related segments featuring McShay, Hoge, Marcellus Wiley and Robert Smith beginning at 3 p.m.

ESPN.com:

ESPN.com will cover the Draft with an unprecedented number of writers and bloggers, including Matt Mosley (New York), Pat Yasinskas (Tampa), Mike Sando (Seattle), James Walker (Baltimore), Bill Williamson (location TBD) and Chadiha (New York), in addition to Clayton and Len Pasquarelli at Radio City Music Hall. The Scouts Inc. team of Green, McShay, Keith Kidd, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl will also provide pick-by-pick analysis. Mr. Kiper will provide final draft grades on Sunday night.

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