There never is anything routine about broadcasting the NFL draft. However, there was one constant with the event annually being held at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
That all changed when the NFL decided to move the draft to different locations. After two years in Chicago, the NFL Network crew will be in Philadelphia this week for more than 75 hours of coverage of the NFL Draft.
"It's a different challenge going from city to city," said NFL Network coordinating producer Charlie Yook. "We were just getting familiar with Chicago. Being in Philadelphia will be brand new not only for us, but also for the viewers. We have to try to figure out new locations and positions to best utilize our talent."
2017 NFL DRAFT
Yook plans to highlight all that Philadelphia has to offer. The main set, hosted by Rich Eisen, will be at the iconic steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Expect more than a few "Rocky" references. NFL Network also will be set up at the Franklin Institute, where the draft will take place. There will be plenty of shots of historic places in town along with many servings of Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.
"If the weather holds up, it's going to be very impressive," Yook said. "We're going to show the vibrancy of the city. I think it will shine literally and figuratively."
Yook also is looking forward to the No. 14 pick in the first round, assuming the Eagles stay in that position. He expects their passionate fans will be very vocal when that choice is announced.
"I'm sure the Eagles fans will let their voices be heard," Yook said. "It's going to be like it was with the Jets fans all those years (when the draft was in New York). It's going to be loud in there."
Regardless of location, the focus remains the same: It is all about the picks and moves that will help determine the future of the NFL.
Unlike previous years when quarterbacks like Cam Newton (2011) and Andrew Luck (2012) were locks to go with the first pick, there are no sure things with this draft. Yook thinks the unpredictability will make for an exciting night Thursday with the first round.
"That's good for business," Yook said. "You look at the teams with the first three picks, and at this point, we don't know what they are going to do. It really builds up drama for the fans."
The other intriguing storyline will be fate of the top quarterbacks. Yook says quarterbacks "move the meter" on draft night. The top prospects will get much of the spotlight, especially with the uncertainty of where they will land. As was the case with Johnny Manziel in 2014, the cameras will be on Clemson's Deshaun Watson, the national championship QB who could go anywhere in the first round and perhaps even fall lower.
Yook says there is a fine line in showing players like Watson and others too much if they drop in the draft. At one point in 2014, a frustrated Manziel left the room to avoid being shown after a pick when he wasn't selected. He eventually went with the No. 22 pick in the first round to Cleveland.
"These guys are important storylines, and people want to see what they're going through," Yook said. "You want to show enough, but you don't want to be disrespectful."
Besides what is taking place in Philadelphia, NFL Network will have cameras in the draft rooms of 20 teams-- including Cleveland and San Francisco, which own the first two picks in the draft. That should provide some interesting inside perspectives with many trades expected to occur in the first round.
Yook also believes it is important for fans to get to know these future NFL players as people. NFL Network will have several features throughout the week going behind the scenes with top prospects.
All told, the volume of coverage for the 2017 NFL Draft might seem staggering. However, Yook knows fans will be tuned in.
"It's a lot, but the fans want this content," Yook said. "This is the grassroots for how it starts for all 32 teams. There's that hope of getting a player or players who will turn around a franchise. That's why people watch."
Here is NFL Network's lineup for Thursday's first-round coverage:
Main set: Rich Eisen, Mike Mayock, Daniel Jeremiah and Stanford head coach David Shaw.
Franklin Institute: Charles Davis, Steve Mariucci and Steve Smith Sr.
Logan Hotel: Ian Rapoport.
Onstage: Deion Sanders.
Watch the NFL Draft LIVE on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network
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