We've finally found the one group that uniformly agrees about
"I believe the intrigue of Tim Tebow will drive the ratings for both ESPN and the NFL Network," said
"Who is going to take Tim Tebow? There are a lot of great players in this draft but the intrigue of that question will drive interest even on the first night of the draft. And if he does not go in the first round, it will certainly drive the interest on Friday night. Who will step up and take him?"
That's a question both Rothman and his counterparts at the NFL Network hope remains unanswered for as long as possible. Attempting to capitalize on what has become its offseason Super Bowl, the NFL extended its draft format this year to three days, including primetime coverage from New York City's Radio City Music Hall on Thursday (Round 1) and Friday (Rounds 2 and 3). The final four rounds of the draft (4-7) will air on Saturday.
"To have a split between Rounds 1 and 2, and then to have that overnight and the whole next day for teams to maneuver will really be fascinating," said NFL Network executive producer
Switching to a primetime draft
The NFL Network's coverage (all 38 hours of it) centers around analyst
One of the NFLN's selling points is its exclusive access into team's war rooms -- network cameras will provide an inside look at Atlanta, Dallas, Green Bay, San Francisco, St. Louis and Seattle. Weinberger said another wrinkle will be the addition of selected NFL play-by-play announcers reporting from team sites. Given the preponderance of homerism among such gentleman, it could provide interesting theater.
ESPN has wisely cut down its talent roster from previous drafts, though many of its regulars remain.
There has long been a collegiality between ESPN and the NFL Network, but ultimately viewers must make a choice. We asked each lead producer why viewers should choose them over the competition:
"I feel very comfortable with who we will put on the air and what they are bringing to the table, and less concerned with what the other guys are doing," ESPN's Rothman said. "I believe at the end of the day it's kind of like chocolate or vanilla -- which flavor do you like better?
"Our production teams and talent have been preparing for this day since the Senior Bowl," NFL Network's Weinberger said. "Led by Mike Mayock's efforts, we are deeper and more informed about every player that is about to be drafted. Round 1 is important. Rounds 2 and 3 are important. But as the first 74 drafts have shown us, the later rounds make and break teams. We believe the layers of information and analysis we have on these players is second to none."