Evaluating the media's NFL draft performance
NEW YORK -- The first round lasted three hours and 30 minutes -- the fastest opening round since 1990. The entire process took just 14 hours and 26 minutes.
The biggest winner of the 2008 NFL draft? Television viewers. The tighter process reduced the prattling by TV analysts and made for a manageable viewing experience.
"The picks have come so fast that sometimes it felt we were just cleaning up at times," said ESPN senior coordinating producer Seth Markman near the end of Day 1. "We streamlined the broadcast and I think it turned out to be smooth and entertaining."
Here's something else that should make viewers happy: The elimination of in-booth guests on Monday Night Football. An NFL source told SI.com that ESPN will dramatically cut back on guests this season, possibly even eliminating the segment entirely after its Sept. 8 broadcast (Minnesota at Green Bay), when Brett Favre is expected to drop by the booth (assuming he's not playing). Given that the majority of the in-booth interviews were essentially a vanity play for all parties, it's a smart (and overdue) move.
Below, our breakdown of those who broke it down on television during the NFL draft:
Green Room Status
The dynamic between ESPN analysts Kirk Herbstreit and Ron Jaworski: What happens when a well-regarded college football analyst (Herbstreit) shares the stage with a well-regarded NFL analyst (Jaworski)? Very good things. Here's an intelligent exchange on Ohio State defensive end Vernon Gholston after he was selected by the Jets with the No. 6 pick.
Herbstreit: "Here is a guy that I think took advantage of a big stage against Michigan. He had five tackles, four tackles for a loss and a sack against Jake Long. And I think that game put him in a position to say I'm ready to come out and become an NFL player. Without that game, he is probably coming back to college next year. But he is a speed rush guy off the edge. That's his strength and that is what he will bring to whatever team he goes to."
Jaworski: "What bothers me is he had a difficult time in space, shedding blocks, making plays. He wasn't a guy, when I looked at the tape, that was consistently running at a very high motor. I think there are some question marks in this pick. There is no question he can rush the passer. But is he a complete football player? I'm not sure."
Herbstreit: "I think his football IQ is still growing. Here is a guy that didn't even come out for high school football until his sophomore year. So he is still learning the game and still realizing his potential to be an every-down player."
We won't know how Gholston works out for a couple of years, but if I'm a Jet fan, I just learned a lot from that exchange.
NFL Network reporter Adam Schefter: The network's information man was ahead of the curve on many picks.
Sirius NFL Radio: No outlet provided more tonnage of the two-day Goodellapalooza. Sirius had live draft coverage from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m ET on Day 1 and 8 a.m. to midnight on Sunday. Next year we'd love to see Artie Lange as part of the coverage.
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper and NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock: You can get away with generalities for the first 50 picks but when it comes to Winston-Salem State defensive end William Hayes (Titans, Round 4), you have to know your stuff. Both Kiper and Mayock once again stepped up to the challenge. There's a growing chorus that wants to claim Mayock as the new king. Whatever. The world needs both Spears and Lohan. Both guys own their content and provide viewers with reasoned takes, even when you disagree with their assessment.
Old NFL draft footage: The flashbacks from the NFL draft's of yesteryear provided terrific theater, from Kiper battling general managers to former Raiders coach Tom Flores talking about draft pick "Howard Long." A suggestion: How about a pre-draft special next year on the most memorable moments from previous drafts.
ESPN's teases: If you taped the draft coverage, go back and check out the vignettes ESPN aired coming in and out of breaks. Terrific stuff.
The production teams of ESPN and the NFL Network: The reduction of time between the picks dramatically changed the production this year. Talent had to get in and out of discussions quicker, and b-roll had to be cut to reflect the time. "We had our first break after the third pick and I heard [analyst] Marshall (Faulk) keep saying, 'Wow, this is not like last year,'" said NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger after the first day. "There's much more of a frantic energy and pace."
The NFL Network has some audio glitches early, but the returns from around the web were positive. No matter what you think of the coverage of either entity, there's no arguing the work ethic of the behind-the-scenes staffers.