A few years ago, ESPN threw more people with more knowledge to corner the market on the NFL draft. But NFL Network kept refining its coverage and used its ability to accumulate exclusive information to put itself in contention to challenge the World Wide Leader.
Now, it’s a rout. It’s not even close. ESPN looks cluttered on set and completely full of itself. Too many people try to talk at one time often speak louder to make their points. It sounds like a version of the old CNN show “Crossfire.” NFL Network looks professional, crisp and informative. The transitions are smooth among the analysts. Often you know what’s going to happen before it’s announced. ESPN sometimes trips over the facts on the way to make its final points.
ESPN’s Todd McShay looks like a amateur, and Chris Berman has become a cartoon character. Jon Gruden provides solid insight, although he’s a talking time bomb. It’s not surprising he just about unleashed a profane tirade on live air. Likewise, Steve Young has a law degree and interrupts more than any defense attorney I’ve ever seen.
Less sometimes is more in television,something the NFL Network has figured out. The on-set analysts work together in tandem, mostly because they’ve done it for months now. Rich Eisen is an underrated studio and on-site host. ESPN just throws “experts” out there we haven’t seen since the Super Bowl. ESPN’s best analysis has come off-site with Herm Edwards, Trent Dilfer, Tedy Bruschi and Suzy Kolber.
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock is the best in the business. He comes from a football pedigree in scouting and it shows. If there’s anything to slap at Mayock it’s that he knows the players so well that his criticism seems slightly unfair. But that’s nit-picking.
Also, NFL Network was smart enough to bring in Texas Coach Mack Brown as a guest analyst. The NFL draft is more than just pro football; it interests college football and NFL fans. That’s why Iowa football fans care nearly as much as Green Bay fans that the Packers drafted former Hawkeye Bryan Bulaga. It’s a marriage that ESPN has failed to recognize.
Of course the constant barrage of NFL Network’s house advertising is annoying but, again, that’s nit-picking. NFL Network has owned pro football coverage and analysis for the last four years. Its comprehensive draft coverage has put the network on another level. ESPN, however, is falling backward rather than keeping up.