Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dollars & Sense - NFL Draft Primer

Radio City Music Hall in New York City is the place where 253 players' dreams were made last year and where many more hopes were dashed.  Today will begin the journey - the first of three long days - for the countless number of draft eligible players.  We do not know for sure who will be the first player to hear his name called  by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell just a little bit beyond 8 p.m. - although it is looking increasingly more likely that it will be Texas A&M offensive lineman Luke Joeckel.

We do know that those viewing the NFL Draft on either ESPN or the NFL Network will be the first people to hear the picks announced.  Last year, there was some criticism that NFL insiders were negatively impacting the viewing experience by tweeting out the picks before they were announced on television.

With over eight million first round viewers combined between ESPN and NFL Network last year, it would behoove the networks to enter a gentlemen's agreement to not spoil the picks ahead of time.  They did so, as Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch wrote in his Monday "Media Circus" column.  Those who decide to tune into the draft via Twitter will have to wait the few extra seconds.

We do not know if this year's NFL Draft will beat out last year's NFL Draft in terms of television ratings.  The first round on ESPN saw 6.6 million viewers and the first round on the NFL Network saw 1.4 million viewers.  But can each network repeat last year's success?

Repeating success or increasing last year's television success is going to be incredibly difficult.  Last year, the media was all over the Luck versus RGIII story line.  This year, there simply is not the same story.  Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o may be the biggest name in the draft, but he is only a mid-first round pick at best.  The networks will need to rely on the avid football fans to view in droves because the stories needed to bring out the casual fans are simply nonexistent.

We do know that whoever ends up getting selected number one overall will not be getting a Sam Bradford-esque 6-year, $78 million contract signed in 2010.  Due to the rookie salary scale, the past two first overall picks (Cam Newton in 2011 and Andrew Luck in 2012) have signed (still respectable) 4-year, $22 million contracts.

There are two questions that surround the draft: 1) Who will go number one? and 2) Which network will you be watching the NFL Draft on?  ESPN offers a first round crew of Chris Berman, Jon Gruden, Mel Kiper Jr., and Suzy Kolber, while the NFL Network offers Rich Eisen, Mike Mayock, Marshall Faulk, Michael Irvin, and Steve Mariucci with Deion Sanders handling player interviews.  After the first round on ESPN, Berman will be replaced by Trey Wingo and Gruden will be replaced by Trent Dilfer and Todd McShay.

For all things regarding media and the NFL Draft, check out Richard Deitsch's media column.

Teams take risks on poor character players, so why not take a chance on a high character player?  Kevin Van Valkenburg on Alabama's Barrett Jones.

Ed Sherman talks with Adam Schefter about the NFL Draft, Twitter, and more.

The NFL Draft is not complete until JaMarcus Russell's name is brought up.  ESPN documents his comeback.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

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