NFL Draft TV Ratings Down…Five Reasons Why

I am not one that regularly trusts the ratings. That’s due to 20 plus years of dealing with a flawed system in radio as both a sports talk show host and a program director. If you knew how they were compiled you would laugh (but that’s for another column for another time). I hear Nielsen that produces television ratings is just as flawed. However it’s the only system we have so hence we must take the numbers as gospel.

So the overnight ratings of Thursday night’s first round of the NFL Draft were released and they were down. ESPN’s numbers decreased 22 percent from last year while the NFL Network was down 10 percent. ESPN did dominate with a 4.3 to the NFL Network’s 0.9. The NFL then quickly stated that it averaged seven million viewers which is the second most watched first round coverage in history. Well it’s only the second first round broadcast in prime time. The first last year was the most watched with 8.3 million.
Once again though the NFL flexed it’s muscle as the most popular sport nearly doubling the NBA Playoff games on TNT which had 3.6 million viewers.

So why the drop? Here are my theories:

1. Lockout: Some fans upset over the labor strife decided to stage their own lockout and not watch.

2. Lack of Stars: When your marquee name is a quarterback that’s had off the field issues combined with many projecting him to be a bust, just doesn’t have the star power to create excitement. Now if Stanford’s Andrew Luck would have entered this years draft he probably would have been worth a few thousand extra viewers.

3. ESPN Broadcast: Maybe people are finally tiring of Chris Berman and Mel Kiper. I know I am.

4. NBA: While the NFL dominated the NBA in viewers still 3.6 million were watching Kobe and the playoffs. Take a million of those and the NFL would have matched last year’s numbers.

5. Casey and Michael Scott:  Probably the most likely reasons. American Idol and the elimination of Casey (which ticked off my wife and daughters) took the top spot in the ratings as usual. The final episode for Steve Carell on The Office drew a 5.7 rating. I DVR’d The Office so please don’t tell me how it ends. Oh wait, never mind.

Mark Ingram Cries and So Does Reggie Bush

Mark Ingram cried on camera at the 2011 NFL Draft. Reggie Bush did so via Twitter.

Once the New Orleans Saints traded up Thursday to select the 2009 Heisman Trophy winning running back from Alabama with the 28th pick, Ingram cried when ESPN’s Suzy Kolber read him an email from his imprisoned father. His dad, also named Mark Ingram, played 19 years in the NFL and was drafted in 1987 by the New York Giants ironically enough also with the No. 28 pick. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2008 on charges of bank fraud and money laundering.

It was a touching moment for a talented kid who should be a nice fit in New Orleans. I just hope he doesn’t follow in the footsteps of other Saints first round drafted running back busts–Ricky Williams and Reggie Bush.

Speaking of Bush, he cried via his Twitter account after Ingram was drafted tweeting, “It’s been fun New Orleans.” No Reggie, it really wasn’t.

Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert: All-Pro’s, Productive, or Busts?

For the first time in 12 years three quarterbacks were taken in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft. And the sad thing is Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert all have a better chance of being busts than All-Pros (and I’m not counting the fourth most likely bust in Christian Ponder because he was taken 12th by the Vikings).

Lets first turn back the clock to 1999. Tim Couch was taken with the first overall pick by the Browns immediately followed by Donovan McNabb and Akili Smith. So only one of out three turned out to be productive. Since that year and not including Thursday, 18 quarterbacks have been selected in the Top 10. Ten of those went on to have productive careers. Eight have been absolute flops. That’s just a 55.6 percent success rate.

My guess is that the percentage will go down when we look back onto the careers of the newest additions to the Top 10 QB club. Newton is an athletic freak but appears to have the mind, temperament and work ethic of a 10-year old. Jake Locker can run (just like the Titans previous QB Vince Young) but can’t throw. Kind of an important attribute you need in a quarterback don’t you think? And there is a reason Blaine Gabbert was passed on for Locker and was going to continue to slide before the Jaguars saved him. He’s a project.

The fact so many quarterbacks went as high as they did tells me the overall talent level in the draft was poor. After the Top 5 picks, teams started reaching for need because there wasn’t many game changing sure-fire stars to take. So while the first round was intriguing it will be interesting to see how many of these players pan out.

But here’s my advice to dad’s out there–after seeing this batch of questionable QB’s go as early as they did, start training your son’s to throw as soon as they emerge from the womb. Seems like it will turn out to be a pretty good investment.

Here is a rundown of the QB’s drafted in the Top 10 in the last 11 years and how I classified them. Let me know if you think differently:

-Matt Ryan: 2008, #1 overall pick
-Eli Manning: 2004, #1
-Philip Rivers: 2004, #4
-Michael Vick: 2001, #1
-Donovan McNabb: 1999, #2

Productive (Including up and comers that could emerge as stars):
-Sam Bradford: 2010, #1
-Matthew Stafford: 2009, #1
-Mark Sanchez: 2009, #5
-Carson Palmer: 2003, #1
-Byron Leftwich: 2003, #7

-JaMarcus Russell: 2007, #1
-Vince Young: 2006, #3
-Matt Leinart: 2006, #10
-Alex Smith: 2005, #1
-David Carr: 2002, #1
-Joey Harrington: 2002, #3
-Tim Couch: 1999, #1
-Akili Smith: 1999, #3

NFL Draft: Not Exciting Because the Jets are Good

Everyone is talking about the lack of excitement and passion for the 2011 NFL Draft.  Most think it’s due to the labor struggles between the players and owners and the questions regarding whether there will be a season or not.  Others because of some rules that handcuff teams from making trades.  And then there are some that believe it’s because of the overall lack of talent available in this draft.  They’re all wrong.  It’s because the New York Jets are good.

Lets face it.  Some of the best NFL Draft drama over the years was when the commissioner would say, “The New York Jets are on the clock.”  It usually happened within the first five picks.  The New York crowd would erupt. The ESPN crew would make their recommendations. Fans would heckle their suggestions.  Then the commissioner would head to the podium and announce, “With the (fill in blank) pick in this years NFL Draft, the New York Jets select (dramatic pause)…A terrible player that doesn’t deserve to be drafted this high and will turn out to be a bust!”  The crazy Jets fans in the crowd would scream in horror shouting profanities!  Mel Kiper’s hair would ignite in flames and every other NFL fan and viewer would bust out in laughter.  It was must see TV–the perfect drama and comedy wrapped into one.

Well those days are long over. I guess we can thank Rex Ryan and a newly intelligent Jets operation for that.  Let’s face it, when your picking 30th it just isn’t the same.  The fans can’t get as a crazy.  In fact I’m not so sure they can stay sober enough to avoid passing out by the time of that pick.  I will admit though, as a lifelong Jets fan there is a part of me that misses those angrier times.  The NFL Draft was our version of the “Super Bowl.”  But with that said I’ll gladly give that up if we can attain the real thing.  But all I know is…THEY BETTER DRAFT A PASS RUSHING DEFENSIVE END OR I SWEAR I WILL…