ESPN and NFL Network Coverage Of The 2013 draft, Steelers.

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New York, NY, USA; A general view of the NFL shield logo before the NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN first began televising the NFL draft in 1980

I have been watching the NFL Draft on ESPN and have only missed few since 1982. Then NFL Draft was held all in one day during the week. I used to stay home “sick” and watch on my parents Magnavox 25 inch console television set which at the time was the largest television available. My friends would call me at home from a payphone at our high school to find out who the picks were. The draft was moved to the weekend in 1988.  I haven’t missed a televised draft since 1990. Through the magic of the DVR last weekend I watched both the NFL Network and the ESPN’s entire coverage of the NFL Draft – nearly 34 combined hours from each network on 65 inch flat screen plasma. I could have watched it through my 4 inch screen on my phone if I needed to.  Wow how the times have changed.

All the draft picks have been scrutinized all week long. The fact is we really won’t know what the Steelers have drafted for a couple years. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the draft coverage from the NFL Network or ESPN this is my review on what you missed from the networks viewpoint.

Round 1 Thursday April 25:

The DVR is a must in order to watch both ESPN and the NFL Network’s draft coverage. I find it harder each year to watch Chris Berman on ESPN (during the season or and the draft.) I fast forward every time he begins to open his mouth. His shtick is ancient, tiring and he adds no value whatsoever to what is being said. Rich Eisen of the NFL network has far surpassed Berman as the Cable Network voice of the NFL. Eisen consistently challenges the analysts on the set with hard questions and doesn’t let go if he doesn’t get a straight answer.

I still love listening Mel Kiper of ESPN.  I like Todd McShay too but he has a ways to go to get where Kiper is at. For the people that don’t think Kiper doesn’t really know anything or is not respected in league circles think again. During ESPN’s coverage it was revealed that he has been offered several front office jobs with NFL teams but has turned them all down. Apparently the niche he has created as a draft expert has paid off quite well.

Mike Mayock of the NFL Network has really stepped up and so has Charles Davis as both are informative and not afraid to be critical of players, picks or teams. I love the passion Gruden brings but sometimes he is out there. His descriptions at times are over the top even cartoonish. He won’t hold back and isn’t afraid to rip someone. Gruden couldn’t believe no one was going to draft LSU’s troubled CB Tyrann Mathieu in round 1.  I couldn’t believe that Gruden couldn’t believe that. Mathieu (round 3 Arizona pick #69) may eventually prove to be a top talent but drafting him in the first round could have been a career killer for a GM. Matthieu will always be one slip up from being out of the NFL.

This was the strangest first round I can ever remember. This year was the first time I did not have a strong favorite for the Steelers to draft in round 1. I usually have 3 or 4 players I hope they might draft in round 1. For some reason I was never excited about Jarvis Jones. It was bothersome that he could not run faster than a 4.9 forty time. He knew that his forty time would determine his draft slot and he ran about a poor as time as he could. Does that say something about his work ethic? I don’t know. Everything I have read said he is a superstar in the making. I hope so. Both networks analyst had the Steelers taking Jarvis Jones if he was available. When it came for the Steelers to pick it was I was hoping for TE Tyler Eifert from Notre Dame. It stung to see the Bengals get him.

Did the Steelers pick the wrong Jones?

The networks show each player’s signature plays after they get picked. Only 3 of the 32 players highlights reels in round 1 really jumped out and those 3 came from the last 9 picks of the round.  Surprisingly Florida State DE Bjoern Werner who went #24 to the Colts on tape was fast and hit with explosive power.  DE/OLB Donate Jones out of UCLA taken by the Packers at #26. I was blown away by his highlight reel. Wow. Easily the most impressive highlight reel of the first round. The best way to describe would be a bigger, stronger, more powerful and just as fast Lawrence Timmons. I can’t believe he didn’t go higher. Matt Elam picked by the Ravens at #32 looks a lot like former Indianapolis Colt safety Bob Sanders. He is compact, fast and can deliver a hit.  I hated to see the Ravens get him.

Like John Gruden Michel Irvin is pure entertainment.  At the end of the round 1 NFL Network broadcast Irvin had an open microphone and was complaining about the Cowboys 1st round pick #30  Center Travis Frederick from Wisconsin who had a 3rd round grade. Irvin upset over the selection could clearly be heard complaining about Cowboy owner and GM Jerry Jones’s pick saying among other things “Man why couldn’t they have taken Elam”. When he realized his comments were caught on camera he predicted they would be all over the news the next day.