Last week, the sacred American institution known as the National Football League had its own three-day long mass right in the heart of New York City: The NFL Draft.
Promising talent from around the nation attended, from Texas A&M star quarterback Johnny Manziel, to defensive powerhouse Jadeveon Clowney, all of them hoping to get picked by a team that will accelerate their careers into stardom.
It’s the biggest event in football before the start of the season, and the spectacle and grandeur of it all is enough to amaze any fan… or is it?
The way I look at it, the draft might as well be a bump on the long road to the NFL. For all the importance placed upon it, and all the media attention that surrounds it, the draft is not as consequential as it seems. Here’s my top three reasons why the draft is actually a bit daft.
1. Annoying Sports Pundits
If you’ve seen as much as a second of “Draft Coverage”, you’ll know that its inundated with Mock Drafts, projections, discussion and debate over players who haven’t even played a day of NFL football yet. Usually this is all done by a merry gang of “experts” who wait all year for the Draft, only to have their “Mock Drafts” proven wrong in the end.
Not only that, but networks like ESPN try to push these so-called “experts” as TV personalities. People like Mel Kiper Jr, who’s hair looks like it could take flight from his scalp at any moment, and Ron Jaworski, who goes by the affectionate nickname “JAWS.” I think that’s all I need to say about him.
Obviously the draft is a big day for football and I understand that places like ESPN want to capitalize on it, but we’re starting to get to the point where it’s less of an informative experience and more of a circus sideshow of wild guessing and bad haircuts.
2. The Bust Factor
No, I’m not talking about cheerleaders. I’m talking about the fact that most of the “top-talent” that gets drafted in the first and second rounds have lackluster careers or simply never live up to the potential ascribed to them by the media.
Infamous examples include JaMarcus Russell, the 1st pick of the 2007 draft who only played for three years in Oakland before getting cut and arrested on drug charges. Or how about former Trojans QB Matt Leinart, who despite a Heisman trophy and a National Championship on his resume, threw more interceptions than TD passes his rookie year.
These are usually the same players the media raves about as being “game-changing”, “franchise-players”, or “prodigies”. Sorry boys, but better luck next time.
3. Unless you are a stats geek, not much matters past Round 1
The NFL Draft is a huge three-day long event with months of build-up and coverage behind it, but unless you work as a scout for one of the teams drafting players, you probably won’t have much fun after Round 1. Once the big names in college football get taken by a team, the novelty of “who’s picking who” disappears rapidly. Some fans might enjoy seeing who their team picks later on to see where the team is developing, but the amount of excitement to be had from watching the draft is a bit of a letdown if you listen to SportsCenter a little too much.
However, I will admit that teams can make huge moves in the later rounds to secure under-appreciated gems. The Seahawks made a big name for themselves by drafting late and getting real game-changers like Cam Chancellor and Richard Sherman. Tom Brady, one of the greatest Quarterbacks of our time (or maybe all time), was selected 199th. It really is a double-edged sword, and somewhat outside the realm of your regular old sports fan.
In the end, we can only see the true potential of these players a few years down the line. Will draft coverage ever calm down to a more reasonable level? In an age where every league wants its own “Showtime”, probably not. With that in mind, here’s to the upcoming NBA draft. Hopefully it will be just as extravagant as the NFL’s.