NFL

New “one-stop shopping tool” aids in ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage

Todd McShay on the NFL Live set. (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)
Todd McShay on the “NFL Live” set. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

When ESPN’s production team began preparations for the 2014 NFL Draft, associate producer Josh Careswell was tasked with gathering data on more than 1,000 draft-eligible players to be used in on-screen graphics during the three-day telecast (tomorrow through Saturday, ESPN/ESPN2).

Editorial graphics production manager Bob Johnson needed the same information to populate the touchscreen regularly used by Todd McShay (see photo above).

The solution – and a great time-saver for both – was the Draft Data Tool, the brainchild of ESPN’s Emerging Technology department.

Created by emerging technology engineer Mike Flannery, and software engineers Ekram Ul Haq, Thomas Ignatius and Tom Miller, the Draft Data Tool aggregates personal statistics and scouting reports (created by McShay and ESPN Scouts Inc.) for the top 1,400 draft prospects. The information is stored electronically so updates can be made quickly and easily and data can be shared across departments.

The project started after Ignatius and Flannery – who had been providing software for the NFL Draft telecast and ESPN’s mock drafts for several years – realized the same set of data was being used in two places.

“We could clearly see that we could merge those two processes,” Ignatius said. “We decided to write one app that [would] provide draft data for all our shows.”

The result?

“Todd [has] more data at his disposal to provide his analysis and predictions while on air,” Johnson said. “The tool also cuts down on the upload time allowing us to update data in a more timely fashion as Todd’s rankings and data change throughout the pre-draft process.”

The Draft Data Tool also changed the way Careswell and future graphics producers prepare for the telecast, allowing them to skip the data entry phase and move more quickly into in-depth research.

“When we’re talking over 1,000 players, that’s a huge time-consuming task, so this new process is great,” Careswell said. “It’s like a one-stop shopping tool to get all the info you need on players in the draft.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s 2014 NFL Draft presented by Bud Light begins tomorrow at 8 p.m. ET. The first hour of Round 1 will be televised with limited commercial interruption. More details.

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