SBD/Issue 156/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NFL Draft Could See More Changes After Move To Primetime

Goodell Says NFL Will Look At How It
Can Change And Grow Draft For Next Year

After the success of the NFL moving the first round of its draft to Thursday night and stretching the event to three days, fans can "expect more flash and sizzle next April," according to Rick Gosselin of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "It's obvious we have something here that has a tremendous amount of interest. We're going to look at how we can change it up again and try to grow it for next year." The NFL "had several guest announcers of picks" for this year's draft, including Pro Football HOFers Jim Brown, Dan Marino and Rod Woodson and ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff. Goodell: "There's an entertainment element to this that's extraordinary." Gosselin: "Count on the NFL to tap that element in 2011." Meanwhile, the league invited 14 players to the draft, and you can "expect that number to increase as well" next year. Goodell: "Players and agents were not comfortable yet that it was going to be a big show Friday night -- that they'd be sitting in the back embarrassed. Now that they've seen it's not the case -- that in fact it's a stage for them to promote themselves and their players -- I think we'll get more interest going forward." Gosselin notes the NFL also "may look into accelerating the pace of the draft to keep it moving along in prime time." Teams this year "were allotted 10 minutes to make their first-round selections, seven minutes for second-round picks and five minutes every round thereafter," but the NFL "could trim the clock to seven minutes in the first round and five minutes in the following rounds." Goodell: "Everything is a possibility. There isn't very much we're dismissing at this point" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/27).

IN NEED OF A LINE CHANGE? SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote ESPN should make the on-air group of Trey Wingo, Ron Jaworski, Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay and Jon Gruden its "main draft team for the 2011 draft." Wingo "lives and breathes the sport 365 days a year as the host of 'NFL Live;' he runs an efficient and professional show that allows the analysts next to him to make their points." McShay and Kiper "have developed chemistry and respect each other on-camera," and Jaworski is "one of the most prepared analysts in the history of the game." Deitsch: "I never feel cheated when I watch him." Also, Gruden "has fantastic insight into the league." Wingo, Jaworski, Kiper and McShay hosted ESPN's Saturday coverage of rounds 4-7 of the draft, and there is "no question the Saturday telecast is a much different broadcast." Deitsch: "You can miss podium picks, there's no reaction shots to consider, and analysts can really chew into a discussion. So I recognize the first round is the harder production when I make the ... recommendation." ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Jay Rothman Sunday said that the network's draft coverage next year "will change somewhat out of necessity." Rothman: "I'm probably going to suggest that we drastically reduce our number of on-air people for next year. I'm talking about Thursday and Friday night. It's hard to stay true to the draft and not miss a pick and still give a little background on the players. ... Things get backed up. I don't want to say I was frustrated, but there is frustration given the speed of it all. My thought is to bring down the talent level big-time and keep it snappy" (SI.com, 4/26). SPORTINGNEWS.com's Dan Levy wrote the Wingo-led group on Saturday "was, without a doubt, the best possible lineup for ESPN to put on television. ... ESPN hit a home run with their personnel on Saturday" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/26).

GRUDEN GOING BEYOND PRIMETIME: Gruden appeared on CBS' "Late Show" last night, where he discussed the draft with host David Letterman. Letterman brought up "Jon Gruden's QB Camp," a recurring segment leading up to the draft where Gruden spoke with several potential high draft picks. Letterman: "These kids had a great deal of reverence for you, a great deal of respect for you, a great deal of fear for you." Gruden: "I felt it was a responsibility to try to help these guys get ready." Letterman added, "It was fun because you start riding these kids, and I loved it" ("Late Show," CBS, 4/26).

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