Before they even take part in their set of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), football players selected in the NFL Draft have another challenge to deal with: their newfound celebrity. Some go from the big man on a campus of 20,000 or 30,000 students to become the face of a franchise, while other players leave school with student populations under a few thousand for NFL franchises based in cities with over a million citizens.
How does Draft Day change their social standing? We looked at the impact of the 2017 NFL Draft on the Twitter following of several NFL players to see just what type of boost it had in their social sphere.
A Post-Draft Follower Boom
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who helped lead the Clemson Tigers to a victory in the 2016 College Football Playoffs National Championship, saw his followers increase dramatically after being selected 12th overall. He was the third quarterback selected, behind Mitchell Trubisky by the Chicago Bears as second overall and Patrick Mahomes by the Kansas City Chiefs as 10th overall. Watson gained almost 115,000 new Twitter followers after the draft.
Texas Love 🎶
— Deshaun Watson (@deshaunwatson) May 9, 2017
Two players who had large followings before the draft, Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan and Auburn outside linebacker Carl Lawson, didn’t make the post-draft top 10, potentially due to their pick slots. McMillan joined the Miami Dolphins as the 54th overall pick, and Lawson waited until the 116th overall pick for the Cincinnati Bengals to call his name.
Two other players who made their way into the top 10: outside linebacker T.J. Watt from Wisconsin and defensive end Taco Charlton from Michigan. Both emerged from the draft as first-round picks – Watt by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Charlton by the Dallas Cowboys – and now have over 70,000 followers each on Twitter.
— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) April 28, 2017
It’s Deshaun’s World
No player experienced a larger individual gain than Deshaun Watson. The new contender for the role as the Texans’ chief signal caller saw over 114,000 new followers – this was over double the second largest gain by safety Jabrill Peppers from Michigan. Peppers, the 25th overall pick and one of three by the Cleveland Browns in the first round, woke up with nearly 54,000 more Twitter followers.
Ten players gained over 20,000 followers each after the draft. Defensive end Takkarist McKinley from the University of California in Los Angeles witnessed his social following on Twitter grow by over 22,000 when the Atlanta Falcons drafted him. On the opposite side of the ball, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey had the fifth largest follower increase after being drafted eighth overall by the Carolina Panthers.
A New Draft Order
Social authority, which measures the value of tweets based on factors such as user engagement and followers, shifted for many players after the 2017 NFL Draft unfolded. Using a scale of 1 to 100, several players received positive increases to their scores based on their draft position. Fifth overall pick Corey Davis, now a member of the Tennessee Titans, saw a positive change of +11 to his social authority score.
Even though Kevin King, now a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, wasn’t drafted as early as Davis, he ended up with a higher social authority increase of +13.
Fringe Follower Benefits
Some players saw large increases in their average number of daily followers. Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley added 118 more followers each day, on average, after the Oakland Raiders selected him as the 24th overall pick. This has him nestled behind Myles Garrett and Deshaun Watson as the player with the third largest daily average of followers gained.
Others – such as O.J. Howard, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from Alabama in the top 20 and was the 2017 NFL Draft’s first tight end off the board – didn’t experience a large change in the average number of daily followers. Howard only received three more followers each day, on average, after being selected by the Bucs. Similarly, Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams, who was selected seventh overall by the Los Angeles Chargers, saw an increase of just five followers each day.
A Female Following
The NFL Draft is one of the few times players are seen without pads and jerseys – instead, walking onto the stage in suits and ties to meet with the commissioner at the podium. It’s one of the few chances many can see them without a helmet on, too, and it certainly helps in increasing their following among female fans.
T.J. Watt, who was drafted 30th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers, saw almost 7,000 new female followers after being selected. It probably doesn’t hurt that he’s the younger brother of Houston Texans star J.J. Watt.
The No. 1 overall pick, Myles Garrett, saw the third largest increase in female followers at just over 3,000. While draft positions were important in generating an increase in followers, as Watt shows, it wasn’t the only way to gain new fans.
Deshaun Watson made a splash in college and continued his impressive social climb after the draft. The newest member of the Houston Texans brings a Twitter following almost equivalent to that of all the Cleveland Browns’ draft picks. Yes, it takes the followers of Garrett, Peppers, Kizer, Njoku, and others to exceed Watson’s. There’s the value in football being a team sport.
Taco Charlton, joining Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott as Dallas Cowboys, amassed a larger post-draft Twitter following than New York Jets rookie Jamal Adams, the combined followings of Kevin King and Josh Jones from the Green Bay Packers, and the new Bears quarterback, Mitch Trubisky.
Congratulations @TheSupremeTaco now it's time to #EarnTheStar pic.twitter.com/aAqMkmhVNO
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) May 12, 2017
First and Followed
No matter where your team’s next great hope is drafted, you never know where the next superstar will emerge. Live a life closer to theirs by following them on social media and sporting officially licensed NFL merchandise and apparel by going to the best place to get it, Fanatics.com.
Player social information was gathered on April 9 (pre-draft) and May 8 (post-draft). The 2017 NFL Draft began Thursday, April 27, and ended Saturday, April 29.
- 2016-17 College Football Playoff Year in Review
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