Mel Kiper discussing his impact on the NFL Draft. Photo Credit: ESPN

The 2024 NFL Draft has become one of the most anticipated events in all of sports over the years. And there is perhaps no bigger influence in the growth of the three-day event than ESPN’s Mel Kiper.

Kiper has been with ESPN covering the NFL Draft since 1984, which at the time was a far less publicized and far less anticipated event in the eyes of most football fans.

Since then, Kiper has of course become the face of draft coverage for ESPN, paving the way for the likes of Todd McShay, Matt Miller, and others that focus largely on draft coverage for the company.

On Day 3 of the draft on Saturday, the ESPN broadcast showed a montage of Kiper’s biggest moments over the years covering the event in honor of what is his 40th anniversary.

Kiper then reflected on how far the event has come since his first draft day event, saying that he always envisioned that the event could become as big as it has.

“The one thing I was right about is that I did think it could be this,” said Kiper. “Because it brings college football and the NFL together. It’s gonna determine who is going to the Super Bowl. You see it with (Patrick) Mahomes. You see it with (Tom) Brady. It determines your fate. The fans, they all care.

“I was told to get a real job. That’s why I tell kids, don’t listen to that negativity and hate. Do whatever you want to do. And if it doesn’t work out, try something else. ESPN did it as well because the NFL didn’t want it televised. They thought it was embarrassing to the league. Look, really embarrassing to the league, a huge event.”

This year’s event broke the in-person attendance record with 700,000 fans attending the event over the course of the three-day draft. And viewership numbers are not yet out, but they should also be quite high yet again.

Say what you will about Kiper and his actual analysis of each draft pick. But his decision to bet on himself and pursue draft analysis as a profession certainly paid off. Not only for him individually but for the NFL and their television partners as a whole.

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About Reice Shipley

Reice Shipley is a staff writer for Comeback Media that graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Sports Media. He previously worked at Barrett Sports Media and is a fan of all things Syracuse sports.