NFL Primetime Draft: Over Or Under?

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If you’re looking for an NFL Draft sleeper tonight, consider one scout’s view on prospect Rupert Boneham, Indiana.

Strengths: Good size, great teammate, two-time All-Star, favors tie-dyed T-shirts. Weaknesses: broken toe, perhaps a tad too nice, maybe a little long in the tooth, and a beard that opponents can latch onto.

Tonight, the cottage industry that is Mel Kiper, Jr. jumps into much of East Coast primetime with the diamond (some say it’s the gold) version of the NFL Draft. With the league’s initial primetime college selection event from Cablevision’s Manhattan art deco palace, Radio City Music Hall, ESPN and NFL Network will move from the relative scheduling safety of Saturday and Sunday afternoons to tackle broadcast and cable entertainment fare head-on.

Tonight, Mssrs. Bradford, Suh and Clausen and the other prospective first-rounders (not to mention the suspended Ben Roethlisberger) take on players like CBS Survivor hero Boneham and the cast members on CSI, Fox’s Bones and Fringe, ABC’s FlashForward, Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy and NBC’s 30 Rock, The Office and The Marriage Ref, as well as competitors named LeBron and Rose, Kobe and Durant, Nash and Miller on TNT and NBA TV, and Crosby, Kane on Versus.

Will the primetime positioning lift the network’s Nielsens beyond the 5.5 million and 803,000 viewers ESPN and NFL Network averaged with their first-day coverage last year, when the draft began at 4 p.m. on Saturday April 25?

Will the three-day set-up — rounds two and three are on Friday, with four to seven on Saturday — surpass the 39 million ESPN, ESPN2 and the league’s in-house network cumed for the 2009 draft?

Bet the over.

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