Phone calls and tears at draft

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

The NFL draft’s move to prime time was a rousing success.

While many pro sports drafts are boring, gabfests without much action, Thursday night’s affair was edge-of-your-seat entertainment for football fans.

Trades came almost as plentifully as tears from the recently selected athletes at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

While ESPN’s panel loses points for ruining the suspense before most picks by revealing who it would be, the group generally did a good job of keeping viewers absorbed in the event.

When TSN2 forced Canadian viewers to switch to the NFL Network’s “B Team” an hour in because of the NHL playoffs, the product suffered.

Consider the NFL Network the opposite of many of the picks. Solid, but unspectacular. Plus they subjected us to the woeful work of Deion Sanders.

The wheeling and dealing provided much of the intrigue and the panel proved it wouldn’t be vanilla right from the start.

When Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford went first to St. Louis, as expected, some of the talking heads, echoing this corner, said that Bradford was the wrong pick.

“If they could, they would trade down and take Jimmy Clausen,” said draft pundit Mel Kiper Jr.

“Do you kill a kid early? They have no choice but to play him,” said San Francisco 49ers hall of fame QB Steve Young.

Strong work

Ex-head coach Jon Gruden’s work with ESPN was stellar. He was funny and charismatic. He said early that a team should go after C.J. Spiller who he called the best offensive player in the draft and was effusive in his praise of the Buffalo Bills when they did so.

Win some, lose some

You had to love the first few times the cameras cut to a crying athlete on the phone with his new employer ... but it got kind of old when it took all of the suspense out of who would be the next pick in the proceedings.

Best entourage definitely goes to new Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden’s crew, particularly with the guy channelling Andre 3000 and Flavor Flav.

The coverage of Tim Tebow was also surprisingly good as was the invasion of Dez Bryant’s home and his subsequent collapse to the floor owing either to the emotion of the moment, or a flair for the dramatic.

Not ready for Prime Time

Deion Sanders was nothing short of awful in his interviewing role. Besides repeating himself as he talked to the newly selected (“ ... get ready because ... is coming to town!”) Sanders was irritating. Maybe it’s that triple play that wasn’t years ago that still gets on our nerves.

The phone thing got really intrusive when the cameras and mics honed in so much on defensive back Eric Berry that you felt you were on a three-way call.

Lines of the night

“The Rams (1-15 in 2009) aren’t one win from making the playoffs, they’re one win from winning zero games.”

— Jon Gruden

“Nobody wants to trade with Mike (Holmgren). He knows what he’s doing.”

— Gruden again on No. 3 selection Gerald McCoy.

After the Rams went on the clock: “That’s one of the loudest cheers the Rams have heard in a long time.”

— Chris Berman

“Coach Shanahan asked if I was commited to being great. I said I was.”

— No. 4 pick Trent Williams

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


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