Following this summer’s NBA and MLB drafts, both occurring in the last month, one thing is clear, the NFL Draft is still the most popular and the biggest media spectacle in all of professional sports. Only the NFL warrants exclusive prime time coverage, and takes over ESPN for three days of solid coverage, from Number One to Mr. Irrelevant.
Here is our top five reasons why the NFL has the best draft system in pro sports
1. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. No other sport has as a more knowledgeable and entertaining draft duo of analysts than the NFL. In fact, other leagues don’t even warrant a Kiper or McShay, who make their living off breaking down college players for the Draft. Whether it is the constant debates about one another’s latest mock drafts or arguments about who they think will be better five years from now, these two can make hours of draft coverage interesting. Most people don’t even know who covers the MLB or NBA drafts, whereas Kiper and McShay have become household names to every sports fan. Kiper + McShay = NFL Draft.
2. The coverage of this event is almost as anticipated as the Super Bowl for a large number of NFL fans, and the timing keeps the fans interested from the Super Bowl right through the Draft. The lead up starts with the NFL Combine, when college standouts showcase their skills to potential coaches and staff. The Combine warrants wall-to-wall coverage as well, and provides continuity from the Super Bowl in early February, to the Combine in late February, to the Draft in April.
3. The NFL Draft is a weekend whirlwind of ups and downs, with the chance of every fan’s favorite team either improving themselves or taking a few steps back as a franchise. Since there can only be one Super Bowl champion each year, the draft gives fans reason for hope in the coming years. Let’s be honest – the Colts were out of the running from October, but the Draft gave them reason to hope for the future. Fans are interested to see who their team is going to select to help improve their roster. Unlike the other sports, football does not have minor leagues or the D-league, so most of the up and coming players go from the Draft right into playing on Sundays.
4. Fans that attend the draft located in New York City’s Radio Music Hall are like no other fans in the world. The interaction between the fans and the players, and even the commissioner, is priceless. Local teams such as the Giants, Jets, and Bills all have a supportive crowd there to cheer their team on, but fans travel hours and camp out for tickets to see the event live. ESPN does a great job of featuring the fans throughout the draft to show their reactions to each pick.
5. The only sport that comes in as a close second to the NFL in popularity in the United States is college football. Most football fans love how the draft connects the two levels during one event, doubling the amount of people following the event because of players going from one level of competition to another. In the NFL Draft, there are 7 rounds of players being selected. There is more of a chance that football fans will know more than a few names heading into the draft due to watching the college game as well, compared to only one actual well known round of the NBA Draft. And for MLB – there are far too many college players and high school prospects for anyone to keep track of.
Overall, the connection between fans and the NFL Draft is so far superior to other sports that there is no comparison. The other leagues have taken efforts to try to make their draft more popular and more of a spectacle, but right now… nothing comes close.
By Billy Bonneau