Ryan covered ESPN's draft coverage, and I'm here to take a look at what the NFL Network did with the first round of the NFL draft last night. Let's take it away, shall we?
-Mike Mayock was great. He gave a ton of information about the players, was brutally honest, and provided a lot of refreshing insight. Mayock also actually analyzed the players instead of spitting out the usual catchphrases you hear nonstop from guys like Kiper and McShay on ESPN.
-The NFL Network main set worked very well together and focused on Mayock. The crew let Mayock be the star of the show, as he had the most experience and knowledge of the players in the draft. Rich Eisen was very good in his anchoring role and was mainly there to facilitate the flow of the coverage towards Mayock, while guys like Michael Irvin, Steve Mariucci, and Marshall Faulk added insight about the NFL teams in the draft and what their needs were.
-I liked the live camera shots of draft parties. It was like a more amped up version of the shots of fans at Radio City that ESPN would always do, highlighting fanbases that wouldn't normally make the trip to New York (like Miami and Houston, to name two). I'm a little shocked that the Dolphins fans didn't completely revolt when they picked Ryan Tannehill though, as the reactions I saw from fans on Twitter were less than pleasing.
-I was irked at how midway through the first round, the NFL brought out some armed forces members to honor...and then, the network cut away halfway through the ovation. It seemed really tacky to me, as you go for the cheap pop and then you don't even get the full effect of it.
-The war room cameras were worthless. During the preshow, they kept showing a multi-screen look in the war rooms.... and half of them were empty, a half hour before the draft. When they would cut to a war room, the executives were essentially just sitting there with stupid grins on their faces, waiting for their picks to be announced by the heavily delayed system. It added less than nothing to my viewing experience of the draft.
-What the hell was the purpose of Jason LaCanfora and Michael Lombardi in the auxiliary stage? They sat there, and essentially, all they did was talk about the trades between teams in the top 15 or so. I don't think they were given any camera time in the last half of the broadcast. It just seemed like NFL Network could have gotten much more out of their insiders.
-Deion Sanders' interviews with the draftees were awful. They were mostly of the human interest variety, except they weren't really interesting. The first couple were multiple questions, then they turned into single question, then they pretty much disappeared while the lower profile draftees started getting taken. And thank God too, because they were a complete waste of time.
-The pacing of the draft over the first ten picks was terrible. It took a half hour for the first three picks to be announced, considering that two of them were chiseled in stone for quite awhile. Teams would get their picks in quickly, and the NFL Network would be scrambling to get everything taken care of, from the backstage views of the pick and his family, to the walk to the stage, to the posedown with Goodell, to the interview with Sanders...it was just a total mess. At one point, I think there was a backlog of about three picks that were submitted while the car wash went on.
-This isn't so much a criticism of NFL Network, but reporters around the league were incessantly tweeting out picks before they happened. The NFL Network was absolutely great about not spoiling picks with shots in the green room (aside from Luck), but it was strange when someone like Adam Schefter or Jay Glazer would tweet out a pick minutes before it was officially announced, and Mayock and the rest of the crew would play be ambivalent to the news. The best example was when the Bills went with Stephon Gilmore and Mayock called an O-lineman for them... you really couldn't get much further off even though plenty of us knew who the pick was going to be already. It was that dilemma between embracing the news aspect of the draft and the television aspect of it that still needs improved.
Overall, the actual analysis of the Draft by NFL Network was good....but the presentation didn't go so well. Possible changes include completely discontinuing the post-pick interview, absolutely not waiting for the player's name to be pressed onto the jersey (which probably added to the car wash time), and maybe even killing the whole "meeting with Goodell" thing. When a p;ayer gets picked and is in the green room hugging a dozen people, and then we don't see him for two minutes, and then he's on the stage for another three minutes.... it's such a waste of time. And then, he needs to do a brief interview with both the NFL Network and ESPN? It's too much. People love to criticize the relatively new to TV MLB Draft for not being marketable, but the first round of that draft is done MUCH quicker than the NFL draft.
My issues aren't necessarily with the NFL Network, but with the layout of the draft itself. There was just so much wasted time, and the NFL could have probably been able to hack an hour off of their coverage, get everything done, and get fans more pleased. On the bright side, this is ahuge upgrade to the seven hour first round from a few years back. Overall, NFL Network gets a B from me.
Click Here for The Good, Bad, and Ugly of ESPN's Draft Coverage.