NFL Live host Trey Wingo is no stranger to the NFL Draft.
He covered the event for the first time on a live ESPN web stream in 2000 before moving onto the ESPN Radio broadcast from 2001-03. Since 2004, Wingo has been a major figure in ESPN’s television coverage of the annual “NFL Player Selection Meeting.”
After doing pre-draft shows and interviews with players during Round 1 yesterday from the ESPN studios in Connecticut, Wingo drove the approximately two hours to New York City around midnight in anticipation of his weekend hosting role on ESPN’s main set at Radio City Music Hall.
For the first time, Wingo will anchor ESPN’s draft telecast of Rounds 2 and 3 from the main set. Beginning tonight (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) and continuing all day Saturday for rounds 4-7 (Noon, ESPN), Wingo will appear alongside Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay and Trent Dilfer.
In anticipation of his weekend assignment, Wingo spoke with Front Row about the NFL Draft.
How much do you enjoy working the NFL Draft?
As much as an eight-year old loves Christmas morning. Each pick is a gift.
How does it compare with other events or roles you have with ESPN?
It’s my favorite non-sporting, sporting event. Nothing happens in terms of playing a game, yet it’s riveting. The best thing about the draft is nobody’s wrong. Everybody’s right. Three years from now we’ll find out who’s right and who’s wrong. Right now, nobody is.
What’s your favorite draft memory, either working or watching?
A few years ago Caleb Campbell, the Army linebacker, was a late-round draft pick of the [Detroit] Lions. When we had him up on the set, everyone stood up and applauded. Fans in every jersey imaginable gave him the recognition he deserved for the things he did away from the field. A few years back we watched Alabama quarterback Greg McIlroy wait a long time to hear his name called. He wore No. 12 at Bama because his father’s favorite player was Joe Namath, and when the Jets picked him the raw emotion he displayed was quite something.
How do you prepare for the draft, knowing there are several hundred eligible players who could be picked in the seven rounds?
For me, it’s all about listening. Mel and Todd know these players much better than I ever will, and Bill Polian knows what works and won’t work in the NFL better than I ever will. My job is to hear what they have to say and put it in the proper context. Don’t ever think you know more than you do. Be as prepared as possible, but realize you’re not the smartest guy in the room.
Describe what Radio City is like on Saturday?
It’s like a much needed football fix. I love — really love — the fans that are there on Saturday. They are hardcore football fans. That’s what I was growing up, and that’s what I am now. Those are my people. I get them.
On NFL Live, you enjoy touting the “Draft Duels” between Kiper and McShay. What’s it like working with them?
They’re great. They’re like two brothers where the older one knows all the tricks and the younger one is trying to gain his “street cred” by taking down the master. They genuinely respect each other despite the fact they disagree quite often.
How many times will Trent refer to a quarterback as a “surgeon” this weekend?
I forget the symbol for infinity, but it would apply here.