Inside the 2014 NFL Draft with ESPN.com columnist Ashley Fox
ESPN.com NFL columnist and NFL Insider Ashley Fox is covering her 11th NFL Draft this week. The event is nothing new to the veteran journalist, who previously worked at Sports Illustrated, the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Courier-Journal (Louisville).
One of 12 ESPN.com staffers who will be covering the action at Radio City Music Hall, Fox will host and participate in an all-day ScribbleLive chat (Thursday, 12 p.m. ET through the first round) with ESPN’s NFL Nation reporters. On Friday, she will have a column on the biggest story of the draft’s opening night.
Before heading to New York, Fox spoke with Front Row about her role and what it’s like covering the event.
How do you approach this time of year, both in terms of your reporting and your TV role on NFL Insiders?
Like anything else, covering the NFL is about building and maintaining relationships. I was fortunate enough to meet a lot of very successful coaches, scouts and players during my time covering the Philadelphia Eagles, many of whom have gone on to even more prominent positions and had even more success. I’ve been able to build my contacts while covering the league for ESPN.com.
NFL Insiders is a show that is information driven. The goal is to get as much information from as many teams as possible to our audience, and to do that, I lean heavily on my most trusted contacts. This time of year I think you have to be cautious, because there is so much misinformation being put out there as teams protect their real intentions. It is part of a “game” leading up to the draft.
What storylines most interest you about this year’s NFL Draft?
The story of the draft will be the quarterbacks, given the wide-ranging opinions on them. There isn’t a clear-cut, no-brainer pick, unlike two years ago when Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III went first and second. One general manager who isn’t in the market for a starting quarterback told me he doesn’t think any of the quarterbacks are first-round talents. How many go in the first round and to where will be fascinating to see.
How would you describe the atmosphere at Radio City?
Raucous. Radio City is always packed. The fans are into it. There is a lot of tension and apprehension. For those players in attendance who get picked in the first round, there is a lot of joy, relief and happiness. For those who don’t, there is unbelievable disappointment and understandable embarrassment.
What has been your favorite NFL Draft-related project to date?
I recently asked several head coaches and general managers whom I trust and respect about the issue of character. It is such an important part of the player evaluation process, but just like anything else, there is what one coach called a “sliding scale” based on a player’s talent. Some teams are just more willing to take a chance on a player with questionable character than others. But it is risky to draft a player with character flags, and given what happened with [former New England Patriots tight end] Aaron Hernandez, teams are more mindful than ever that they have to dig deeply into the backgrounds of players whom they are considering employing.
EDITOR’S NOTE: ESPN will televise the 2014 NFL Draft presented by Bud Light beginning tonight at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN.com’s NFL Draft Central and NFL Nation pages will provide fans with updates and analysis throughout the three-day event.