By Mike Davis
I’m the kind of guy who watches the fourth, fifth, sixth, and even seventh rounds of the NFL Draft. I’m a draft geek.
But this year, I had the opportunity to get closer to the experience than ever before. Thanks to Medill, J.A. Adande and CSN Chicago, I was able to cover the entire 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia. I’m talking one-on-one prospect interviews. I’m talking working inside the media room alongside industry vets like John Clayton (I freaked out a bit when I saw him). I’m talking red carpet!
Honestly, the overall experience is something I will never forget.
I’m going to try to take you through the few days. A lot happened. I’ll try to be concise.
I went to Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia to cover a special day between the prospects and patients. Seeing not only the joy on the kids’ faces, but also the players, (guys like Takkarist McKinley and John Ross) made me smile.
Players were available to the media, and I got interviews — both in a scrum and individually — with Deshaun Watson, Solomon Thomas, Jamal Adams, McKinley, Ross, and more.
I put together a package for CSN Chicago. Here it is.
But there wasn’t time to rest. After that event, I headed over to the Sheraton Hotel to help my fellow Medill partner, Jasmine Minor, interview the experts from the NFL Network. We were able to snag exclusive access to popular personalities like Steve Smith Sr., Coach David Shaw, Brian Billick, Steve Mariucci, Daniel Jeremiah, and Maurice Jones-Drew. Working with CSN Chicago, our questions were centralized around the Bears, so naturally we had a lot of potential franchise quarterback questions.
The first round is here! We knew we needed to get to the media pavilion early since the red carpet was first come, first serve. We wanted to be as close as possible. Once we got our spot, we practiced standups alongside industry professionals. I grew up in the Philadelphia area, so I had to pinch myself a couple times. All these sports broadcasters I grew up watching on TV, yep, they were right next to me doing the same thing. I even made a Medill connection with CBS 3 Philadelphia’s Don Bell, who graduated from the MSJ program in 2002 and currently is a Medill Sports mentor to one of my best friends at Medill, Alan Suriel.
Once the players and coaches came out, it was time to get to business. Reporting on the red carpet was just incredible. I’m working on putting together all my interviews from the red carpet for my reel. I don’t feel my words can accurately depict the access we had, But here are a few pictures that can better show it:
After the red carpet portion concluded, we watched the draft take place alongside other media members. As players got drafted, interview opportunities followed. After the Bears trade up from the no. 3 spot to no. 2 to select Mitchell Trubisky, we set-up our cameras in our designated space. We had to get comments from the new franchise quarterback. And players kept coming and coming throughout the night.
On my last day of coverage, with little sleep and a cold, I jumped out of bed in the morning, excited to find Bears fans and get reaction to the crazy draft day trade and selection.
It was a crazy few days I’ll never forget. The access was insane. But most of all, I grew as a journalist and reporter. Covering the draft was three non-stop days of fun and learning. And now I cannot wait to learn some more.