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Volume 24 No. 179
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ESPN's Todd McShay Talks How Interest In Draft Has Exploded

McShay (r) now evaluates 350 players by the first week of April, compared to 140 in previous years
Photo: ESPN IMAGES

ESPN’s Todd McShay has worked as an NFL Draft analyst for the net since ‘06, and he has joined Mel Kiper Jr. to form perhaps the most visible on-air duo dissecting the slate of players poised to join the league. McShay recently talked to THE DAILY about this year’s QB-rich draft, what he does to prepare for it and how it has made his life extremely busy. His answers have been edited for brevity.

Q: How is this year different than past years?

McShay: This year for whatever reason, it started earlier, the interest in this draft. It's been a couple of years since we've had a ton of interest in the draft, which usually correlates to the quarterback class. Just having a USC guy (Sam Darnold) who wins, I think, nine straight wins a year ago and coming off that incredible Penn State comeback win in the Rose Bowl. Josh Rosen really stepped in right away at UCLA and became the face of that program. And Baker Mayfield and the run that he went on this year, taking (Oklahoma) all the way to the College Football Playoffs.

For me this year, I know I've done a lot more television and media stuff than usual. I would say even more so than the Manziel year (’14) and even more so than the Tebow year (’10), because there has just been so much interest that started really at the end of the last college football season.

Q: How has ESPN's coverage of the draft -- and your work -- changed since you joined in ‘06?

McShay: The first couple of years, I would go to the Senior Bowl, be there all week and would do no TV and no radio. About 2010 it started to change. I would go to the combine the first couple of years and I wouldn't do any TV. Then they would send one camera out and I would just look into the camera face up and they would run it on "SportsCenter" in one hit. Now I go to the Senior Bowl and they have a set there and we have a production truck there and there are probably 15 or 20 people on the production crew. The same with the combine. There's a cast of thousands who are sent to the combine and we do TV before, during and after the workouts. It's probably for the better, but it becomes more challenging to carve out more time to be able to watch these players and work through my process.

Q: What is your process?

McShay: During the season I am covering games, so I like to see live and up close a bunch of teams during the year. Then I sit down with them. I sit down with their coaches and I get a feel from that. Really, my process starts the previous year in May. The first thing is I try to watch 120, 140 guys on tape. I try to watch three to four tapes on every single player. Now instead of 120-140, I have to get to 350 players by the first week of April.

Q: When have you made a mistake and what did you learn from it?

McShay: It all goes back to the tape. Mistakes happen when I watch a player and I put in a grade and then I get these outside influences -- whether its talking to teams, combine numbers, pro day workouts, All-Star week performances. If it starts to sway me off of that, those are the guys I get frustrated about. I say, “You know, I really liked that player and I wanted to put him in the first round because he did everything else really well and I should have put him in the first instead of the third."