For quite a few years now, the top two names among draft analysts were Mike Mayock and Mel Kiper. Kiper rose to fame as a draft guru for ESPN in the early 80s and over the past 20 years Mayock had risen to become the most respected draft analyst on television.
Now, it’s back to Mel Kiper to be the talking head with all the answers as Mayock has taken the GM job with the Raiders.
Kiper held a conference call Tuesday where he was asked if he had ever considered making a similar move as Mayock to which Kiper said he had his first opportunity to join an NFL front office before he even got into television.
“I had that opportunity back in 1983 to go to work for the Baltimore Colts,” Kiper said. “It was one that Ernie Accorsi was going to bring me in and then it didn’t work out obviously with Ernie’s situation with the John Elway trade and the team moving, so I stayed doing what I was doing and then five months later got the call to go to work at ESPN, so it worked out pretty well from that standpoint.”
In 1983, Kiper was known only in NFL circles for his books on draft prospects, which he had been putting together since 1979. It paid off for him four years later when ESPN came calling for him to be their draft guy as the popularity of the annual event began to grow and the network wanted to televise it.
Still, that’s a very long time ago; 35 years to be precise. Kiper went on to say he has had some interest in his services in that time, but has never wanted to leave ESPN.
Kiper added; “There’s been other possibilities out there along the way that just weren’t something I was going to look into because I was very happy doing what I was doing and the situation at ESPN, so I’m not going to give up all that to go to work in the National Football League at that time.”
Still, Kiper has to be a bit envious of his old rival Mayock being in the situation where he has a high pick and four picks in the top 35 in the upcoming draft. It’s one thing to talk and talk about what you would do with a pick. It’s entirely another to have some actual say in what that pick will be.
“In terms of what Mike’s doing out there, it’s Jon [Gruden] and Mike working together,” Kiper continued. “They have the three first round picks, they have a chance next year and the opportunity to fill a lot of holes, they have decisions to make — the Antonio Brown situation in Pittsburgh and needing a receiving, they have the draft picks, do they try and make a move there? Do they take Kyler Murray? Do they move Derek Carr? Do they stick with Derek Carr? Jon has always raved about quarterbacks like Mahomes and Russell Wilson and the like, so what’s his opinion of Kyler Murray and contrasting him and comparing him to Derek Carr?
“So, I think it’s going to be, you talk about about a fascinating player, it’s Kyler Murray. The most fascinating team in this draft for obvious reasons is the Oakland Raiders.”
Correction: The article originally stated Mel Kiper said he was approached about a GM position. The question was with regard to Mike Mayock who left TV to become a GM, but Kiper’s response does not specifically state he was approached about a GM position.