To add more suspense, ESPN said it would stop showing players on the phone with teams in the Green Room to avoid tipping the audience to whom is being picked.
But none of that matters if ESPN’s coverage of the draft is horrible in every other way.
The first and even most of the second round is very compelling, and Jon Gruden, Chris Berman and mostly Mel Kiper provide tremendous insight into the players being selected. As much as I love ESPN reporter Adam Schefter’s insight into the workings of NFL teams, he was worse than the network itself last year about tipping picks.
The moment the third round started, the ESPN crew was joined by Todd McShay, who is either Mel Kiper’s best friend or most hated co-worker, I can never tell which.
Once McShay showed up, I’m sure most draft fans thought, “Great! Now we can have McShay and Kiper debate about the players being selected. this should be entertaining.”
Instead, McShay and the rest of the ESPN draft crew sat and caught up like old friends who haven’t seen each other in years. And after they finished catching up, how does ESPN go about acknowledging the draft? By talking, via satellite, to a Browns assistant GM, of course!
Meanwhile, two, three, four picks go by on the ticker below before any of them acknowledge the draft going on behind them. The "‘Ticker’' at the bottom of the screen is both useless and frustrating to watch. “The Pick Is In” sign shows up and stays next to the team’s name for three to five minutes, before finally flashing the choice on screen for about five seconds and then disappearing, never to be seen again.
The next team goes on the clock, but we never see the clock, only “The Pick Is In,” and the cycle starts all over again.
After about 20 minutes and two commercial breaks, ESPN begrudgingly goes to Kiper for all of 20 seconds to talk about the players who were taken while the draft was going on behind them.
I can only imagine the meetings of ESPN executives:
Executive 1: “This weekend we will be airing the NFL draft. How should we go about our coverage of it?”
Executive 2: “Well, we can bring in knowledgeable people who spend all year researching the good, bad and potential of every eligible player in the draft, and let them speculate and discuss every selection.”
Executive 1: “Perfect.”
I had a conversation with a gentleman about the draft recently. He said, “Well, I don’t care which team drafts ‘Lineman X’ in the fifth round.” To which I replied, “You may not care, but there are quite a lot of us who do. That’s why draftniks find the draft so interesting.”
If that gentleman does not care about Lineman X, why watch the draft? Clearly, it is not for you. Just because something is on television, does not mean you have to watch it. Just ignore it and watch something else.
When I finally gave up on trying to watch the draft on ESPN, I went to NFL.com and watched its live streaming of the third round, and it was not much better at all. When I switched over, it cut to, shockingly, a bunch of talking heads in an NFL Network studio, miles away from the draft, talking about players who were selected yesterday, while their ticker did the same great job of telling me that, “The Pick Is In” for five minutes, before flashing the name on the screen for a second or two, then taking it away.
If ESPN does not care about the draft, why waste time televising anything more than the first round? I’m sure it could spend the rest of its air time on Tim Tebow.
The NFL draft is something that I and so many others look forward to all year. An entire year of speculation, discussion and argument all come together for three glorious days as we watch both the future Hall of Famers and the future Ryan Leafs get their start in the NFL.
I will not be watching the draft today solely because I cannot trudge through the frustration of draft coverage being anything but that.
Thank you, ESPN, for completely ignoring every reason why any of us watch the draft.