NEW YORK - Fewer players walked across the stage and Radio City Music Hall was not as packed or rowdy, but twice as many dreams came true on Friday night than Thursday at the 2013 NFL Draft and there was no shortage of action.
During the second night of selections, the stage served as the grounds for a procession of NFL legends, each of which was met with a smattering of boos from the crowd before announcing his team's pick.
The picks came fast and furious in the second round. John Cyprien to the Jaguars kicked off the night, but it was Manti Te'o and Geno Smith who drew the biggest reactions from the crowd. A chorus of boos followed every mention of Teo's name throughout the night.
While 19 players were made available to media, only two players were put through the ringer on Friday night. While Alabama running back Eddie Lacy and Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson had long since left New York when their names were called by the commissioner, Smith and Mississippi State cornerback Darius Slay didn't want to pass up that moment.
It wasn't as glamorous as it would have been on Thursday night, and Slay's press conference may have been sparsely attended, but one moment is emotional no matter where a player is drafted: the phone call. For Slay, Detroit Lions defensive backs coach Marcus Robertson was the first person to tell him the news.
"He said, 'Didn't I tell you we were going to draft you?' and it just shocked me," Slay said. "And then I know who it was."
As the league continued to plow through picks, the crowd continued to shrink. By the time the second half of the third round rolled around, the crowd had dwindled down to a fraction of the 4,600 that stayed wire-to-wire on Thursday night. Fans sat chin in hand as exhaustion began to set in. Meanwhile, other fans continued to heckle well into the third hour of picking, their insults slicing through the dull buzz of Radio City Music Hall.
While plenty of people left early, the NFL didn't let anyone leave empty-handed. Gift bags with towels, portable radios and other gifts were scattered around the building.
Somewhere along the line on Friday night, the NFL Draft ceased to be a spectacle of the NFL's popularity and an entertainment event for thousands and it became a fan fest. On day three, fans will be greeted by guest speakers as they are free to roam around Radio City Music Hall and have their pictures taken holding up their favorite team's jerseys. Various promotional events will take the place of the press conferences, and fans will have plenty to keep them busy.
For the average fan, Saturday's picks won't provide many familiar names, and only the true diehards will be able to stick it out.
More big names and a handful of future stars are bound to come off the board on Saturday, but if the late Friday night crowd was any indication, some of the most intriguing day three picks could go largely unnoticed by a tired, sparse audience.