2014 NFL Draft: ESPN analyst weighs in popularity of big event

How do you explain the popularity of the NFL Draft?

Good question, especially when Nielsen estimates that 20 million viewers tuned in at some point to ESPN or NFL Network draft coverage of round one last year.

“It’s one of those things where (fans) can’t get football this time of year,” ESPN analyst Mark May theorized on ABC15.“The closest thing to NFL football is the NFL Draft. “

Not only will 2014 mark ESPN’s 35th straight year televising the Draft, but the network will produce 42.5 hours of original Draft-related programming between May 5-11.

And, according to the Valley resident who played 13 years in the NFL as an offensive lineman, when the first round commences on Thursday evening, there is no doubt which name should be called number one overall.

“Jadeveon Clowney. He’s the best player in the draft by far,” May answered emphatically about the South Carolina defensive end. “I know great players when I see them. I know guys that are generational players that come along once every ten years…he’s one of those players.”

As for the Cardinals game plan going into a draft that is considered to have excellent depth at multiple positions – that’s easy. Well, easier said than done.

“If I’m sitting in the front office, I’m saying ‘we’ve got the 20th pick, we only have 6 picks overall, let’s move back.  If we drop back,’” May continued. “’We could possibly still get our guy and pick up a few additional picks.’”

Of course, Arizona did that last year and used the extra picks to select guard Earl Watford and running back Andre Ellington. As for trading up, that’s considered unlikely.

"There are a few scenarios that we've talked about that we would consider moving up in the draft in the right circumstance," GM Steve Keim recently told the media. "But, for the most part, I think our philosophy would be to acquire more picks and move back. We do think it's deep enough that you're going to get third-round players in the fourth and fifth rounds, guys who can come in and be immediate impact players."

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