There will be more ways to watch the 2018 version of the NFL Draft than any that came before it. Fox, ESPN, ESPN2, and NFL Network will all broadcast live from the event Thursday night, giving viewers several different options to hear just how the Browns have bungled their latest picks.
Fox is a relative newcomer to the game. The network will carry the banner for basic cable over the next five years as part of its agreement to host 11 Thursday Night Football games per season between 2018 and 2022. Its part of a plan to make Fox “America’s football authority,” according to Fox Sports president Eric Shanks.
But its first broadcast at the NFL Draft won’t be a solo effort. Fox has teamed with NFL Network for this year’s event in Arlington, Texas. Troy Aikman and Jay Glazer, two major presences on Fox’s football coverage, will spend time on NFLN sets breaking down the first round Thursday night. Otherwise, the main Fox primetime show will feature regulars like Rich Eisen and Mike Mayock. They’ll be joined by Daniel Jeremiah and Stanford head coach David Shaw.
ESPN is countering by doubling its coverage, attacking this year’s draft with a standard broadcast on its main network and a college-oriented one on ESPN2. NCAA football analysts like Rece Davis, Desmond Howard, and Lee Corso will bring a College Gameday-style atmosphere to ESPN2 to detail the impact 2018’s draftees had on Saturdays. On ESPN, draft mainstays like Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, and Trey Wingo will handle their duties on the NFL side of things.
ESPN’s coverage will expand to ABC on Saturday, as Fox’s programming doesn’t include the Day 3 picks of rounds four through seven. The move ensures non-cable subscribers will be able to watch the draft in its entirety through an over-the-air broadcast. ESPN2 and NFL Network will each have interrupted coverage of all three days.
Finally, ESPN found its replacement for Jon Gruden, who left the world of broadcasting to rejoin the Oakland Raiders on a 10-year, $100 million head coach contract. College football analyst Kirk Herbstreit will be tasked with fawning over the NCAA’s top quarterbacks in his absence.