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Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe, right, poses for photographs with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the 11th pick overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the NFL football draft at Radio City Music Hall, Thursday, April 26, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Pierce: ESPN, NFL Network won’t spoil draft surprises
Sports on TV » The channels airing the draft live — ESPN & NFL Network — won’t report picks before they happen.

By Scott D. Pierce

| Tribune Columnist

First Published May 06 2014 12:43 pm • Last Updated May 06 2014 11:24 pm

Want to know who takes BYU’s Kyle Van Noy before he’s officially picked in the NFL Draft? Dying to find out where Utah’s Trevor Reilly is going?

Want to know if Utah State’s Tyler Larsen is picked just before he is?

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If so, don’t tune in to ESPN or the NFL Network. Don’t follow ESPN or NFL Network reporters on Twitter to get the news before it’s on TV.

For the second year in a row, the two channels that carry the NFL Draft won’t be scooping themselves. They’re going to wait until NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell steps to the podium and breaks the news.

In the media world in which we live — where everyone is trying to beat everyone else to the story, even if it’s a second or two on Twitter — this is almost unprecedented. And much appreciated.

Let’s face it. As a television spectacle, the only thing the NFL Draft has going for it is suspense. Those moments when draft picks are announced are surrounded by hours of endless and largely meaningless chatter.

(By the way, Round 1 of the NFL draft is Thursday at 6 p.m.; Rounds 2-3 are Friday at 5 p.m.; and Rounds 4-7 are Saturday at 10 a.m. — on both ESPN and the NFL Network all three days.)

This is one big guessing game, and sometimes the guesses are spectacularly wrong. It’s always worth a smile when ESPN overhypes its draft guru, Mel Kiper Jr., for his amazing prognostication powers. At least to those of us who remember that he projected BYU’s John Walsh as a sure first-round pick who would be the first quarterback taken in the 1995 draft, helping Walsh to decide to forego his senior season in Provo.

Walsh was finally selected in the seventh round, the 213th overall pick.

Certainly, we all make mistakes. And, while Kiper has been spectacularly wrong at times, he’s also been right.

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But the fact is that all the analysts are guessing. They’re guessing who will be drafted when. They’re guessing how those draft picks will pan out once they join their teams.

The only thing we know for certain on Draft Day is who was picked by what team. And giving that away early ruins the only entertaining part of ESPN’s and the NFL Network’s telecasts.

You could argue that reporters are withholding information from viewers. Which is true.

But we’re not talking about important, breaking news. They’re not covering the White House. You might just as easily argue that waiting to post casting news for the latest Hollywood blockbuster for a few seconds or a few minutes is some sort of disservice to the public.

And the restraint that ESPN and the NFL Network will show during the draft is not something that will be observed by all media. If you want to know a few seconds/minutes before a draft pick is announced on TV, log in to Twitter and you will have more than your fill of spoilers.

And that’s an apt comparison. Some people like spoilers; some people hate them. When it comes to the NFL draft, spoilers take an iffy TV show and make it all-but unwatchable.

If I’m Van Noy or Reilly or Larsen, I want to know ASAP. If I’m watching on TV, I’d just as soon wait a few seconds.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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