Mel Kiper and The NFL Draft are synonymous with each other. No football fan can think about The NFL Draft without voicing or thinking about the name Mel Kiper Jr. The word used around his name is “institution” and they are 100 percent correct. ESPN VP of production, Seth Markman, stated in an interview that Mel Kiper Jr should be in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. I completely agree with this statement and after the viewership numbers were released, it’s difficult to argue with Seth Markman.
Mel Kiper started his business of scouting and analyzing the nation’s top draft picks since 1981 when he was a student in college. He started Kiper Enterprises after handing out scouting reports about players to then Baltimore Colts Executive Ernie Accorsi, who then convinced him to start selling the reports to make money. Accorsi even offered Kiper a position in the Colts front office when they were in Baltimore but after the move to Indianapolis, it never came to fruition. In 1984, ESPN hired Kiper full time as an NFL Draft analyst and put him on the 1984 draft coverage and he has never left that post as he is now the biggest face on the draft weekend coverage.
I know Mel Kiper gets dragged quite a bit this time of year, but the dude:
1. Had a passion
2. Created a job that literally didn't exist
3. Has made a career and livelihood out of it
People shouldn't be making fun of the guy.
Dude is literally the American dream.
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) April 29, 2023
The viewership numbers have been released for the 2023 NFL Draft and they were big again as usual. Throughout the now three networks (ABC, ESPN, NFL Network) that is shown to the public now it garnered 11.4 million viewers on both television and streaming platforms on the primetime first round of the draft. That is a 12% percent increase from last year and it sustained a 6 million viewership number (on average) for the remainder of the weekend. For a total of about 54 Million viewers all together. While these numbers this weekend are not solely because of Mel Kiper, they are attributed to him. While Kiper is far from perfect (no scout or analyst is) on their player evaluations, they tune in to not only see who their favorite team or prospect will be drafted but they want instant analysis. These large numbers also show you that fans crave the NFL all year round and the “offseason is a season.”
🚨2023 @NFLDraft Viewership🚨
*Total unduplicated audience of 54.4 million viewers for 3-day event
*6.0 million viewers (TV+Digital) over 3 days across all networks & digital channels
*Each day up in AMA vs. 2022
*312K fans attended in KC
Release: https://t.co/U0vA85sII9 pic.twitter.com/lH2r3xV6d7
— NFL Media (@NFLMedia) May 1, 2023
The Hall Of Fame Argument
When people say that Mel Kiper is an “institution” when it comes to the NFL Draft, they truly mean it. Kiper is the face of The NFL Draft now. He brought the mock draft on a napkin to the mainstream media. Mel Kipers “Big Board”, which is his Top 25 Prospects that he updates regularly throughout the college football season is sacred to many bloggers and content producers. You could make the argument he made draft coverage popular not only for football fans but for all sports now. In a world where content is king in a digital age, Kiper was way ahead of his time. In fact, most professional drafts are now big primetime events that rake in loads advertisement money and eyeballs onto screens. It makes these leagues relevant during their irrelevant times. Kiper bet on himself and the belief that people wanted (and cared) about the NFL Draft. His belief has paid off and he should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a contributor to the game of football.