NFL College Draft on ESPN
Every year in late April, the National Football League holds its rookie draft, where the 32 NFL teams take turns selection from the best players to leave college football that year. These players are college seniors and juniors who have chosen to give up their last year of college eligibility.
NFL officials gather in New York City in Radio City Music Hall, where many team fans (especially New York Giants and New York Jets fans) arrive to cheer or boo the selections. Most NFL teams maintain a draft room or “war room” at their home facilities, which contains their coaches, scouts and GM. When a selection is made, the war room phones its pick in to one of its team officials at Radio City Music Hall, who fills out a card and sends it to the league officials. In the early rounds, NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell announces the selection.
NFL Draft Live
In the early 1980′s, ESPN began to cover the NFL Draft live. Though then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle was surprised anyone would be interested in the draft process, he agreed to allow unprecedented coverage. From fly-by-night draft coverage in the early days, the NFL Draft has grown to become a major television event and one of the highest-rated broadcasts on ESPN. There is coverage in the days leading up to the draft, as well as full minute-by-minute analysis throughout the scope of the 7 round draft process.
The Green Room
Players expected to go in the top half of the 1st round of the NFL Draft are invited to Radio City Music Hall. These players sit in what’s called the Green Room. Invariably, one of these players falls down the draft board, and the ESPN cameras are left to film the uncomfortable and disappointed final player in the Green Room. Since there are 10 minutes between picks, a player sliding through the 1st round might spend 4 or 5 hours waiting to get picked.
In at least one case, Roger Goddell eventually asked the final player (Brady Quinn in 2007) to come sit in the commissioner’s private room, to save the player the embarrassment (or harrassment). Eventually, the player gets drafted and appears happy to be going to whichever team ended his “slide”.
NFL Draft fans enjoy gathering at Radio City Music Hall to cheer or jeer the picks. This is especially true with fans of the nearby teams, such as the Giants, Jets or Philadelphia Eagles. The Jets have given their fans many reasons to boo their choices over the years, because for many years in the 1980′s and 1990′s they always seemed to reach on a player who was slotted to go much lower in the draft. In the 1983 draft, Jets fans expected their team to draft college star Dan Marino when he slid to them at the 24th pick of the 1st round. Instead, the team drafted another quarterback, Ken O’Brien. Marino went on to a Hall of Fame career.
When the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Donovan McNabb 2nd overall one year, their fans booed so loud and boisterously that they made McNabb’s mother cry. The Eagles fans wanted the team to draft running back Ricky Williams instead. This turned out to be the right selection for the team, of course, as McNabb has led the Eagles to four NFC Championship Game appearances and one Super Bowl appearance.
Mel Kiper – NFL Draft Analyst
Another fixture at ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage is Mel Kiper. Kiper was an obscure owner of an NFL draft newsletter when he was selected by ESPN to serve as their NFL Draft analyst in their first year of draft coverage. Since that time, Mel Kiper Jr. has had a successful career as a draft guru, with a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of the college draft class. Many complain that Kiper’s analysis is still that of an amateur instead of a professional scout, but Mel Kiper has become the face of the NFL Draft on ESPN, with his gelled hair and rapidfire draft analysis.
In fact, Kiper has even had feuds with one or two NFL front offices. After scathing comments about picks by the Indianapolis Colts, Colts owner Jim Irsay asked, “Who the hell is Mel Kiper?” Kiper continued to criticize picks that usually turned out flawed, at least until Peyton Manning arrived and turned the Colts franchise fortunes around.
NFL Draft Lore
After more than 25 years on tv, the NFL Draft has its own lore. NFL fans might complain that not much really goes on at the NFL Draft or that we really won’t know which team had a good draft for possibly years, but fans also realize the draft is the only real NFL event that takes place between early February and early August every year. So many football-starved fans tune in to see a preview of the coming NFL team and get a sneak peek at their team’s newest players.
We also have plenty of other NFL history and background on our site.
More NFL History
- NFL Draft Busts
- NFL Draft Steals
- Terms – NFL Draft
- Terms – NFL Combine
- 2008 NFL Offseason
- Super Bowl History
- Super Bowl History Part 2
- Super Bowl History Part 3
- Super Bowl History Part 4
- Super Bowl History Part 5
- NFL Cheerleaders
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- NFL Mascots Part 2
- 10 Greatest All-Time NFL Coaches
- 101 Football Articles Resources
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- NFL Fight Songs
- 101 NFL Fun Facts
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