With the 2013 NFL draft out of the way, we're still recovering from 16 hours worth of live draft coverage on television. And while we don't expect ESPN or NFL Network to make any big changes to their broadcasting pecking orders until those with seniority are ready to walk away, we still have four analysts in mind whom we'd love to see on the main desks earlier in future years.
1. David Shaw: Shaw has a fairly important day job as head coach of the Stanford Cardinal, and the networks typically only put the analysts in their full-time employ on the desk for Round 1, but NFL Network should break that rule and use Shaw more prominently during their draft coverage (assuming he's cool with it). The guy is just so damn knowledgeable but also extremely likable and without shtick or ego. That's rare.
Unfortunately, the 40-year-old a strong candidate to make the leap to the NFL in the near-future. And if that happens, he'll disappear from draft coverage entirely. That would be quite the shame, because Shaw is funny, well-spoken and — again — extremely smart when it comes to the game, the players, the teams and the X's and O's. Hopefully Shaw eventually works his way onto the TV side because he was one of the breakout analysts of the weekend.
2. Daniel Jeremiah: Jeremiah is a former scout who's been on the media side of things for less than a year, but he's clearly becoming a star in the industry. He's plugged in, and he has the perfect combination of pro and college knowledge. He was with Ian Rapoport on the "insider" desk for Round 1, but that wasn't enough.
Jeremiah's analysis is so far ahead of what Michael Irvin and Marshall Faulk bring to the table, and he's much better on air. But because he's not a former player and is so low on the totem pole (you rarely saw him on air during the season), he'll likely never get a chance to receive a draft coverage promotion until or unless Mike Mayock moves on.
3. Todd McShay: McShay has been the Robin to Mel Kiper's Batman for so long that I've sort of forgotten to point out that he's way better at this thing than Kiper is. It certainly feels as though he does more legwork than Kiper does, and he's less locked into outdated philosophies.
McShay is only 36, which gives him 16 years on his partner/counterpart. Hopefully the pecking order changes soon, though, because McShay deserves a chance to become a more prominent voice during the first round on ESPN.
4. Brian Billick: We've talked about Billick as a rising star in the analyst world on a few occasions, but he was once again on his game this weekend on NFL Network's set. The former Baltimore Ravens head coach doesn't pull punches despite being on a league-owned channel and he really, really knows his stuff. I wouldn't call him a top-tier draft expert like Jeremiah or Mayock, but he definitely brings the NFL perspective on these picks in a big way.
The question now is whether Billick will stick to the broadcasting thing or take more money to rejoin the coaching ranks. As a viewer, I'm really hoping it's the former.