Who's better at covering the NFL Draft? ESPN or the NFL Network?
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Draft Day is upon us, and yes I can feel it. But there is only one way to experience D-Day of course, and that is by leaning back in your recliner and enjoying it on television. All the suspense, all the emotion, all the shocker picks, all the trades, all the analysis... but which channel is the best to view the draft on? Rivals NFL Network and ESPN both have their strengths and weaknesses. I'm going to break it down to see who, in my opinion, is the best quality by quality:
John Clayton (aka the "Crypt Keeper" coined by Sean Salisbury) is really going downhill, in my opinion, when it comes to insider info. All he does is tell us why things happened the way they happened after it happens, rather then informing us ahead of time, and he has been way off base of late. Chris Mortensen is well informed, but Clayton brings down ESPN's grade.
Adam Schefter is simply elite. He knows what's going on in the war rooms as far as trades and such on draft day. He tells us what's happening around the league at all times, and I think with more accuracy than what Clayton gives us.
Edge: NFL Network
Chris Berman is the classic host. He can break down a highlight with the best of them, and he has a true passion for football and the draft. Not the most knowledgeable, but he brings a lot of personality to a broadcast.
Rich Eisen is great as well. He's funnier than Berman and he's more "professional" in his presentation. It depends on what you want in a host; can't go wrong either way.
Secondary Football Experts:
ESPN is not half bad with their analysis, contrary to popular thought. Tom Jackson has a nice personality and he isn't afraid to come out and say something. I'm not a fan of Steve Young's; hopefully he won't be at the draft this year. Merril Hoge deserves a lot of credit for saying there was no quarterback in 2006 that should have been a first-round pick, I think that has been proven here (plenty of flaws in Cutler, Young and Leinart). Ron Jaworski is probably the best when it comes down to breaking down film for specific NFL material, and I like the insight he gives on college prospects.
I have a great respect for Brian Baldinger as an analyst. He was the first to come out and talk about Darren McFadden as being the most overrated player in the draft. I enjoy how both he and Soloman Wilcotts breaks down film well, but his accuracy with projections is merely average. Jamie Dukes is a tool, and I don't think his analysis necessarily belongs on television because he isn't that good. Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders are students of the game, and they are pretty solid at times, horrendous on other occasions.
NFL Draft Experts:
Todd McShay plagiarized Mike Mayock. He brings down ESPN's grade a whole lot. All he says is the consensus opinion, and he doesn't come out and say anything unless he's hearing it from his sources. I have no respect for his football knowledge.
Mel Kiper, on the other hand, is the Godfather of the NFL Draft. He's the pioneer for all draftniks. He brings the energy and the passion to the Draft that simply makes him one of the best in the business. He knows what the draft is and he hypes it up as good as anyone. Plus, he's got the best hair.
Charles Davis, like McShay, is a complete tool. I don't even think he does his own mock drafts after the crap he came out with, and he's said a bunch of total idiotic comments. He said San Francisco needed a "bookend linebacker." What is a bookend linebacker? He also has made statements such as Jacksonville needing a left tackle (Khalif Barnes), Minnesota needing an inside linebacker (E.J. Henderson), and Green Bay needing a wide receiver. He never voices his own opinion on anything; all he talks about is about who he has talked to. No analysis - I don't think he deserves a job.
Mike Mayock is the definition of an elite analyst. He's the only one who called Buffalo taking Donte Whitner. Mayock does his own film evaluation (I think most lie about this) and he simply knows the game and understands draft theory. He isn't a very good mock drafter in my opinion, but his analysis is second to none.
Because I grew up on Kiper (he's probably the reason I love the draft so much) I give him the edge here because of his passion, energy, voice and personality.
ESPN presents the draft perfectly. They have the scroller on the side of the screen showing needs, draft history, tidbit information and draft picks thus far. I am a huge fan of the interface they utilize. It keeps me informed and psyched all throughout draft Weekend.
ESPN also presents the highlights perfectly. The NFL Primetime music gets me jacked up. The highlights are very well put together and entertaining. Then, at the end of every prospect highlight, we get the picture of the player with measurements and stats. It's simply perfect.
NFL Network, on the other hand, absolutely sucks in this department (unless they change it this year, which I doubt). All they have is a bottom ticker showing current round picks, and a top ticker showing the chrolongical draft order of teams' logos. I hate it. They don't keep me as informed as I want to be, and it isn't much to speak of. The highlights are boring with no music. I don't feel any hype on NFL Network on D-Day.
Huge Edge: ESPN
I tried to break down every category the best I could. It's all about personal preference, obviously. I watch the first round of the draft on ESPN, then switch it back to NFL Network for the second round and on because they do a better job of analyzing mid-round prospects when all ESPN seems to talk about is Brett Favre and the first five picks of the draft.
The presentation, interface and Mel Kiper keep me hooked on ESPN for the first round. ESPN is classic, and while I prefer NFL Network for pre-draft coverage (including Senior Bowl and Combine), I think ESPN owns Draft Day. You simply can't beat how they put together the highlights with Kiper breaking them down.
Verdict: ESPN for first round; NFL Network for second round and on.