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Report: ESPN, NFL Network likely to hold combined 2020 NFL Draft telecast

Matt Johnson
ESPN logo at Walt Disney World
Jan 25, 2020; Kissimmee, Florida, USA; General overall view of globe at the entrance to ESPN Wide World of Sports. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As NFL teams prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft to be held virtually on April 23-25, ESPN and NFL Network are getting ready for their own major change for this year’s draft. Specifically, there are ongoing discussions for ESPN and NFL Network to host a combined draft telecast.

According to NBC Sports’ Peter King, momentum is building towards the top networks working together at ESPN’s studio in Bristol, Conn. In that scenario, NFL Network talent will help co-host the broadcast or serve as featured contributors to the draft coverage. If a combined draft broadcast happens, NFL Network’s host Rich Eisen and draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah would have prominent roles in the draft show.

The decision for a joint broadcast comes at a time when the NFL’s television studios in Culver City, Calif. and Mount Laurel, N.J. are closed to due orders by the states. ESPN’s studios are allowed to stay open on a limited basis, per the report.

It would represent a significant change for two networks that have competed with each other, especially regarding NFL Draft coverage for years. However, the NFL wants to present a unified broadcast and both the league and networks want to be as responsible and safe as possible.

EA Sports is partnering with the NFL to show draft prospects virtually walking up to the podium to meet Roger Goodell. While players won’t be able to meet Goodell in-person, there is still discussion going on within the league regarding where Goodell will announce the picks from. ESPN’s campus is within driving distance of his home, per NBC Sports, but many executives are hoping he stays at home and announces draft picks via video.

Much like the entire world, the NFL is in an unprecedented territory with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 NFL season might not start on time, but the 2020 NFL Draft will be held in just a few weeks. It is just going to be a very different experience than everyone has grown used to over the years.