The NFL Draft is just about to start. After months of hype, analysis, and predictions the drawn out event will finally kick off this evening. But to be honest I am not interested most in where Johnny Football will go, whether Jadeveon Clowney will hear his name called at number one, or even where a couple of Montana football players will land. Rather, my intrigue will be devoted to another man.
Mel Kiper Jr.
Call me strange and question my manhood but I really like the job that Mel Kiper does. In fact, I think he is the perfect example of someone completely exceeding the expectations of a job and separating himself from anyone else in his profession. The amount he knows, the degree to which he prepares, and his talent for relaying the information (even if he is talking 100 MPH) is very admirable to me. In my opinion he is an all-star.
Something about his personality just makes me like him. He reminds me of the overly nice nerdy kid in high school who knew every single detail about sports, of course never playing them, who could talk non-stop about the most trivial aspects of athletics such as the past six bench coaches of the Toronto Blue Jays or the jersey numbers of the 1999 Atlanta Hawks. I always liked that type of kid though and it might explain my fandom of Mel. But let me give the guy a little more credit. While he might have a personality that reminds me of a socially awkward sports obsessed nerd he is a genius with a knack for evaluating talent and a gift for killing it on television.
Ah yes, the work he does on TV. I love it. The intensity he brings to the set along with his trademark hair and glasses makes him a lot of fun to watch. The way he just rattles off information the moment names are announced is fascinating. Watching him on TV during the year shows off his intelligence and talent but the true spectacle really comes during the latter rounds of the draft where he can recite every vital statistic and tendency for the players drafted in the triple digits. I know it is his job to know all the prospects but the detail and promptness with which he talks about them once their names are called is astonishing.
I also like him because he knows more than just football, contrary to what some might think. On Saturday mornings he hops on ESPN radio for a weekly show and just dominates it. He talks about all sports and is precise, interesting, and humorous. Even though he broadens his scope during the Saturday show he will still talk some football. For the past few weeks they have had a segment where they just open up the phone lines and callers ask him anything they want about the NFL Draft. In about two minutes he will go through 15 different callers dishing out in depth information right on the spot. No pauses, no gaps, no asking the caller to repeat.
Kiper doesn’t show ego or a larger than life personality on air. He just goes out and does his job. But he is so much smarter than anyone else that he has developed kind of a “mad scientist” type persona. I wouldn’t say that is a bad thing though. In fact I think it has really molded him into a respected and beloved ESPN talent. Bring on the NFL Draft, I want to see Mel! Don’t Blink.