The Walt Disney Company Presents the 2021 NFL Draft

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The Walt Disney Company Presents the 2021 NFL Draft

Photos via ESPN Images

  • Live All Three Days Starting April 29 on ESPN, ABC, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio and the ESPN App
  • SportsCenter Segments, NFL Live, College GameDay and NFL Draft Countdown Originate from Cleveland and Precede Prime-Time Draft Presentations

The Walt Disney Company will kick off its presentation of the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 29, at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on ESPN, ABC, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio and the ESPN App. Coverage will include 1,500 creative elements, 450 player highlight packages and 35 player vignettes. ESPN and ABC will document the three-day event with 50 cameras and more than 50 microphones following live action in Cleveland, more than 40 additional cameras at the homes of Draft prospects and another 32 cameras offering looks into each NFL Draft room.

On ESPN, Mike Greenberg will host prime-time telecasts in Cleveland on April 29 and 30 with senior NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., NFL analysts Louis Riddick and Booger McFarland, Senior NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter and NFL host Suzy Kolber, who will interview draftees. This will be ESPN’s 42nd NFL Draft telecast.

On ABC, Rece Davis will host prime-time broadcasts in Cleveland on April 29 and 30 with college football analysts Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard and senior NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay. From a nearby set, Maria Taylor will host with college football analysts Jesse Palmer and David Pollack. Taylor will also interview the family members of NFL draftees. Leveraging valuable insights from the eleven-time Sports Emmy Award-winning College GameDay Built by The Home Depot crew, ABC will offer player-focused coverage, giving insight to storylines on and off the field.

Following distinctive prime-time presentations, the ABC and ESPN teams will combine to present Day 3 of the NFL Draft with Davis, Kiper, McShay, Riddick, Mortensen and Schefter offering commentary.

The ABC and ESPN teams will also preview the NFL Draft on editions of College GameDay and NFL Draft Countdown. Pre-event coverage begins April 29-30 at 5 p.m. ET and Saturday at 11 a.m. ET, all on ESPN. Davis and Taylor will host College GameDay April 29-30 and Laura Rutledge will host on May 1. Rutledge will also report from the red carpet for College GameDay prior to Round 1. Greenberg will host NFL Draft Countdown.

On ESPN Deportes, Monday Night Football voices Eduardo Varela and Pablo Viruega will deliver exclusive Spanish-language coverage from ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn. Reporter Rebeca Landa and Sebastian Martinez-Christensen will provide reports.

ESPN’s coverage of the 2021 NFL Draft will also air internationally, reaching more than 60 million households in Spanish-speaking Latin America, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, the Netherlands and Africa.

On ESPN Radio, 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter anchors Elle Duncan and Kevin Negandhi will lead NFL Draft broadcasts April 29-30 from Bristol, Conn., alongside NFL Front Office Insider Mike Tannenbaum, ESPN Radio’s Bart Scott and reporter Ian Fitzsimmons. Duncan and Kevin Negandhi will also kick off next Thursday and Friday morning co-hosting ESPN’s Get Up from 8-10 a.m. ET. ESPN Radio’s coverage will continue on May 1 with host Jason Fitz, NFL Draft analyst and Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy, Tannenbaum and Fitzsimmons. Saturday’s NFL Draft on ESPN Radio coverage will also be simulcast on many of ESPN’s digital and social platforms, including Twitter and Facebook.

In addition to airing live on ESPN, ABC, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio and the ESPN App, the 2021 NFL Draft will be televised on NFL Network presented by Verizon and streamed live through NFL digital properties. SportsNation’s NFL Draft Digital Show will also stream live Rounds 1-3. Further, ESPN will surround the three-day event with coverage across all platforms and count down to Round 1 with a 26-hour Draft Marathon across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS. Highlights:

SportsNation NFL Draft Digital Show Streaming Live across the ESPN App, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and – in an ESPN first – TikTok
This year, ESPN’s live digital show for the NFL Draft will be anchored by SportsNation on Thursday and Friday and accessible across the ESPN App, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and – for the first time for an ESPN studio production – TikTok. As fans have come to expect from the SportsNation brand, the show will focus on reactions and engagement from fans both on site in Cleveland and across social media.

Ashley Brewer, Treavor Scales, and Mike Golic, Jr. will host from the main set in Bristol, Conn., and will be joined by a lineup of ESPN’s digital commentators including Mina Kimes and Harry Lyles as well as instant analysis from Matthew Berry, Jason Fitz and Field Yates. Together, they will deliver pick-by-pick coverage through the fans’ perspective with off-stage moments that will complement the viewing experience to the main telecast. The show will also feature first round reaction from First Take commentators Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman and player vignettes from SportsCenter anchor Kevin Negandhi. Additionally, it will create real-time video highlights and moments for the ESPN App, YouTube, and across social platforms.

A multicast show with ESPN Radio will be live streamed for Saturday’s coverage featuring Golic, Jr., Scales, and Yates.

ESPN NFL Reporters to Cover All 32 Teams
The following NFL reporters will appear on a variety of shows sharing the latest news from around the league: Jeff Darlington (covering the Buccaneers, Chiefs, Dolphins, Jaguars, Packers), Dan Graziano (Bengals, Chargers, Giants, Lions, 49ers), Kimberley A. Martin (Bills, Browns, Panthers, Vikings, Washington), Sal Paolantonio (Colts, Eagles, Jets, Ravens, Steelers), Mike Reiss (Patriots), Dianna Russini (Bears, Falcons, Raiders, Saints, Titans), Lindsey Thiry (Rams) and Ed Werder (Broncos, Cardinals, Cowboys, Seahawks, Texans).

NFL Live and Afternoon SportsCenter Segments to Originate from Cleveland
Laura Rutledge will host NFL Live from Cleveland April 28-30 with NFL analysts Mina Kimes, Dan Orlovsky, Marcus Spears and Ryan Clark. The daily NFL news and information show will air at its regular time on April 28 (4-5 p.m. ET) and expand to two hours April 29-30 (3-5 p.m. ET), leading into College GameDay. The noon ET edition of SportsCenter will also expand for Draft coverage April 29-30, airing live until 3 p.m. ET. Rutledge will host segments from Cleveland during the three-hour programs.

More Pre- and Post-Draft Coverage on SportsCenter
SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt will air at 11:30 p.m. ET on ESPN following prime-time presentations of the Draft with more reaction, analysis and interviews. Leading up to the Draft, editions of SportsCenter will air related content including a series narrated by anchor Kevin Negandhi that explores the Draft needs of the Jets, Dolphins, Patriots, 49ers and more, as well as a virtual reality series with analyst Dan Orlovsky breaking down the top five quarterbacks. SportsCenter also will air Draft-related excerpts from other ESPN shows including Hey Rookie, Detail: Tebow, QB21 with Kirk Herbstreit and a series of vignettes on Draft prospects.

ESPN, ABC Commentators Make Guest Appearances on NFL Network
Today Louis Riddick will join NFL Total Access and David Pollack will join NFL Now, continuing a Draft tradition of cross-network collaboration. ESPN2 will also simulcast NFL Network’s Good Morning Football April 29-30 from 7-10 a.m. ET. Additionally, the Draft-a-Thon will be featured across live Draft coverage on ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio and NFL Network April 29-May 1. Release.

SEC Network Debuts New Draft Special
SEC Network is televising SEC Featured: Draft Special, a look at the best storytelling surrounding the top potential Draft picks from the Southeastern Conference. Airing now through April 29, the show is hosted by SEC Network host/reporter Alyssa Lang. Additionally, SECN has featured regular Draft analysis and expert interviews throughout its daily programming, including The Paul Finebaum Show and SEC Now.

ACC Network Draft Preview Leads Into Round 1
ACC Network will air an hour-long The Huddle: Draft Preview on April 29 at 6 p.m. ET. Host Kelsey Riggs along with ACCN college football analysts Eric Mac Lain and EJ Manuel will break down what will make players successful at the next level. The show will also cover player arrivals and interviews leading into ESPN and ABC’s NFL Draft coverage.

First Take “Draft Blitz”, Round-By-Round Recaps and Special Guests
Every day leading up to the start of the 2021 NFL Draft, ESPN’s popular morning debate show First Take – featuring Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and host Molly Qerim Rose – will continue its “Draft Blitz” segments where the trio breaks down one team’s needs, goals, options and much more. In addition, First Take will preview the overall Draft before the start of Round 1 with a special edition on April 29 as well as recap each round with must-watch perspective the following morning with a full lineup of special guests.

Daily Wager
ESPN’s daily sports betting news and information program Daily Wager will have NFL Draft content every day leading up to the Draft, including discussing Draft prop bets for every team in the league. Daily Wager will dedicate almost all of the April 28 show to Draft content, airing from 6-7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The weekday show will air at an earlier time April 29-30 (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

ESPN Radio
ESPN Radio’s daily weekday and weekend studio show lineups will break down the latest storylines and welcome special guests to get fans ready for each day’s NFL Draft on ESPN Radio presentation. Highlights include:

  • April 24-25 – ESPN NFL Nation reporters and local affiliate hosts will join the network’s weekend lineup to discuss teams’ Draft prospects and storylines
  • April 26 – The 90-minute, final pre-Draft episode of the First Draft podcast will be released
  • April 28 – A Daily Wager NFL Draft special from 9-11 p.m. ET

ESPN+
Leading up to, during and following the NFL Draft, ESPN+ is providing fans with distinctive analysis and insights from ESPN Draft analysts and ESPN NFL Insiders, including a series of preview specials, new episodes of Detail and The Fantasy Show with Matthew Berry and premium articles on ESPN.com and the ESPN App. Details.

The Undefeated
ESPN’s multiplatform content initiative exploring the intersection of sports, race and culture will offer comprehensive coverage of the 2021 NFL Draft via features, HBCU highlights and vignettes. Highlights include: Martenzie Johnson examines how race plays a part in Justin Fields’ and other Black quarterbacks’ evaluations; Domonique Foxworth looks back 10 years on how cornerback Richard Sherman fell to the fifth round and the Seahawks “Legion of Boom” came to be; Branson Wright explains what drives Justin Hilliard, an NFL Draft prospect who played six years at The Ohio State University while dealing with injuries that could have ended his collegiate career; and David Steele interviews University of Missouri football players Joshua Bledsoe, Tyree Gillespie and Larry Roundtree on how their bond in Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., strengthens them to be the best men on- and off-the-field.

Additionally, the HBCU features focus on the top prospects from Historically Black Colleges and Universities who have a chance at playing in the NFL, such as: Alabama A&M quarterback Aqeel Glass; Florida A&M’s offensive linemen Calvin Ashley; former Hampton University and Florida State University quarterback Deondre Francois; and North Carolina Central University’s defensive back Bryan Mills. Video stories from Bill Rhoden spotlight the 19 players from HBCUs inducted into the Hall of Fame; how the Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty of the 70s was built on the foundation of drafting a league-high 24 players from HBCUs; and a profile of recent HBCU draftees who became NFL Pro Bowl players.

ESPN.com and ESPNDeportes.com
ESPN.com’s coverage of the 2021 NFL Draft will focus on signature voices Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay, Louis Riddick, Kirk Herbstreit and others. Highlights include NFL Mock Drafts paired with SportsCenter Specials, pros and cons on every first-round Draft pick from NFL Nation, plus Draft Day analysis from NFL Nation on every draft pick and real-time data via DraftCast. Following the 2021 NFL Draft, ESPN will release Kiper’s Draft Grades (the foundation for SportsCenter Special: Draft Grades on May 4) and ‘Early Impact’ Rookies (May 4) as well as McShay’s best picks for all 32 teams (May 1). Additionally, McShay will look ahead to next year with a Way-Too-Early 2022 Mock Draft on May 6, Kiper will unveil his Way-Too-Early 2022 Big Board on May 11, and NFL Nation will break down the biggest post-draft questions for all 32 teams on May 12. In addition, ESPNDeportes.com will have a team dedicated to covering the Draft, providing pre-Draft analysis, pieces written by Sebastian Martinez-Christensen and videos of every selection.

ESPN Social Media
ESPN social media will produce live shows, videos, graphics, and unique storytelling across Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook. SportsCenter’s social channels will have an exclusive, all-access Instagram takeover with former Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II and ESPN’s Instagram Story experience will take followers behind the scenes: arrivals, fashion on the red carpet, and more. Plus, Najee Harris will take over the ESPNNFL Instagram on date.

ESPN Marketing
ESPN unveiled the latest rendition in its multi-platform “Ready for Football” creative campaign in support of the NFL Draft. The spot continues to celebrate ESPN as a great place for NFL fans to connect with the players, teams and storylines of the NFL, 365 days a year. ESPN once again worked with creative agency Arts & Letters for the campaign.

ESPN and Marvel Entertainment
ESPN and Marvel Entertainment have teamed up again for this year’s NFL Draft, designing custom comic book covers depicting seven Draft prospects – Najee Harris, Trevor Lawrence, DeVonta Smith, Azeez Ojulari, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Kwity Paye and Zach Wilson, featuring Marvel themes that pay homage to original Marvel Comics covers while promoting the upcoming NFL Draft. Covers will be unveiled in the days leading up to the Draft, with Trevor Lawrence’s cover being revealed live on College GameDay during Draft coverage on April 29.

NFL Draft Programming Live from Cleveland:

Date Time (ET) Event/Show Network(s)
Wed, Apr 28 4-5 p.m. NFL Live ESPN
 
Thu, Apr 29 12-3 p.m. SportsCenter (segments) ESPN
3-5 p.m. NFL Live ESPN
5-7 p.m. College GameDay ESPN
7-8 p.m. NFL Draft Countdown ESPN
8-11:30 p.m. ET Round 1 ESPN, ABC, ESPN App, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, NFL Network
Fri, Apr 30 12-3 p.m. SportsCenter (segments) ESPN
3-5 p.m. NFL Live ESPN
5-6 p.m. College GameDay ESPN
6-7 p.m. NFL Draft Countdown ESPN
7-11:30 p.m. ET Rounds 2 and 3 ESPN, ABC, ESPN App, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, NFL Network
Sat, May 1 11 a.m.-12 p.m. College GameDay ESPN
12-7 p.m. ET Rounds 4-7 ESPN (ABC simulcast), ESPN App, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, NFL Network

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Allie Stoneberg

I advance ESPN’s communications and publicity efforts for NFL studio programming, Monday Night Football, the NFL Draft and our coverage of the Canadian Football League and the Arena Football League. I enjoy meeting journalists in person at games and events and delight in showing them around our Bristol, Conn., campus.
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