ESPN is bringing a piece of “College Gameday” into the mix for their NFL draft coverage. College football analyst Kirk herbstreit will take Jon Gruden’s place during coverage of the three-day event, which kicks off on April 26.
Herbstreit will join host Trey Wingo, draft analyst Mel Kiper and NFL analyst Louis Riddick.
Gruden, who served as an ESPN analyst since 2009, left ESPN to take the head coaching job for the Oakland Raiders in January. He had been a part of ESPN’s draft coverage since 2010.
Frankly, if they wanted to bring the goofy Gruden-factor, they’d be better off bringing in Lee Corso. Instead, ESPN went with Herbstreit, a buttoned-up analyst who can serve as a reminder that the draft can be just as much about college football as can be about the pros. He may not be as fun as Corso or Gruden, but Herbsteit may be able to bring some of the College Gameday atmosphere that has made the show unique and successful. And ESPN needs to continue establishing themselves in a competitive market of draft coverage, which this year will include NFL Network and, for the first time, FOX Sports 1.
Herbstreit explained how he sees his role shaking out alongside Kiper, the godfather of draft analysis, and Riddick, a former NFL executive.
“After we talked about my role, I was pumped up. I’m going to stay in my lane and let Mel and Louis and Trey kind of say, ‘Hey, the Broncos really need to do this.’ I’ll kind of be more of breaking down some of the prospects from a college football perspective. Once they told me I was doing that and not projecting … I’m not into that at all.
“As long as you do your homework, when you go on the set the ball can go anywhere and you’re ready to go.”
Herbstreit’s time on “Gameday,” a three-hour show, should prove useful as draft coverage is also a long and unscripted event. Herbstreit explained he anticipates fitting well in the group, as he’ll have insights on what should be a quarterback-heavy first round.