by Ryan Meehan
Over these past few years I’ve become quite vocal when there’s an event we shouldn’t care about for whatever reason or another, and it’s usually followed by some long and drawn out article detailing why nobody should pay attention to it. Unfortunately if you hate those posts, you’re not going to be a huge fan of this piece.
The NFL draft is one of the most overhyped events in all of sports. It’s like the Olympics, but every year and with a lot more hair gel. It’s hard to hate on the players themselves, because in all fairness to them this is the moment they’ve waited their whole life for and for most of them the signing day that follows will be the largest payday they’ll ever have. It’s not them I have a problem with, it’s how ESPN sells it. But it still sucks and I don’t plan on watching.
To use their own terminology against them, I believe this year’s overall draft experience is going to be a total bust. However, I feel obligated to present both angles even though one is quite acute and the other is severely obtuse.
Why I may be wrong:
1. The talent level appears to be very high amongst the players expected to go in the first round
There are several draft experts who believe that this year’s class has the most talent in a long time. And from what we know about the top two picks alone, it would be pretty hard to argue with that. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin are not only incredibly skilled, they’re both really sharp and were excellent students. I like this tight end from Stanford (Coby Fleener) that the Giants are looking at, and he seems to be very well educated. Obviously in this area we’ve heard plenty of good things about Iowa tackle Riley Reiff, who is expecting to go to the Chargers at 18. And who won’t want to laugh at the Browns finishing 4-12 next year after having three first round picks? So it’s not a total loss, at least not yet.
I can’t really think of any other reason that the draft might be chock full of pleasant surprises, so it looks like this is going to be more lopsided than I had originally thought. Tie one off, because here we go…
Why I may be right:
1. Everything you’ve heard up until this point about the 2012 NFL draft is extremely biased
The only problem is those same people have a very serious vested interest in the draft being sold, so you’re not getting an honest opinion of what the content actually is. Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay are excited about the draft not only because it’s their time of the year to shine on national TV, but they basically get three to five months off after that before they have to get on TV again and act like they disagree with each other all the while screwing Disney out of a ridiculously large paycheck. Of course ESPN is stoked about this year’s draft…it’s on their network.
And while we’re on the subject of ESPN, I’d just like to take a brief second to share that I’m not very impressed by their draft coverage to begin with, especially when you get past that first day. I’ve watched Stuart Scott struggle to pronounce some of the names of the players taken on numerous occasions, which is nearly inexcusable when you consider that the network basically knows who is being taken in real time. I don’t care how hard the guy’s name is to pronounce, when you’ve had two hours between commercials to pronounce something that likely isn’t THAT hard to say in the first place (especially when you’re in the field of broadcasting) there’s no explanation for not being able to pull it off. And I do understand that everybody screws up every once in a while, but the particular second day clip that I am talking about he miffed six or seven in a row.
2. There’s no immediate suspense, as we already know who is getting taken first and second
The majority of the folks who watch the NFL draft are only watching to see who their team is taking, or watching only the first round. Well all of the hype that has been created up until this point has sucked the life out of all that, as now not only the first selection is a lock, but the second one is as well. There isn’t a single person in this country that can toss a football through a tire who doesn’t already know that the Colts are taking Luck first, and if you honestly think that the Redskins are going to change their mind at the last minute after those picks they traded to the Rams, you might as well just walk in front of a firing squad because it’s not happening.
And since all of the attention has been focused on Luck and Griffin, so much airtime has been focused on them that I’m not sure we know as much as we should about the other guys. In other words, the media wasted about two solid months telling us what we already knew anyway instead of giving us information about players that may have been more interesting, or (gasp) more talented. The “moment we’ve all been waiting for” has already happened from a business standpoint. I say we just Photoshop everything together now and save ourselves the broadcast, but more importantly the hassle.
3. It’s three days long
Three days? Are you serious? So it starts on Thursday night, then goes into Saturday…What makes you think that in a universe so dominated by short attention span that even the biggest football fan in America is going to have that much patience? I know there will be people that will do it, but those individuals really need an additional hobby. All seven rounds of this fiasco will be televised, and none of them will be on the subnetworks like the deuce or the trio. And don’t get me wrong, I know football is king but this is a perfect present day example of how baseball is getting pushed further and further back into our subconscious with every passing year. And think of how bad this makes hockey fans feel, as they’re right in the heat of the Stanley Cup playoffs. I bet Barry Melrose’s mullet is crying blood.
It’s also part of my duty to inform you that three day period, get used to the bottom of your television looking like CNBC. There will be a constant crawl of so much data that you could never absorb in a century moving at a speed where you’re not going to be able to catch but a fraction of it anyway. And when you do have enough time to see who your team selected, it’ll be interrupted by “breaking news” that the Raiders traded the Washington State Penitentiary their third and fourth round picks in the 2014 draft for a guy that’s facing life in prison for robbing some 9 year old kid’s lemonade stand with a machine gun.
4. The free agent signings and trades that your favorite team has made are way more important than who they draft (This is the most important out of all of them)
Now I know what you’re thinking – Why would my team trading for a 33 year old special teams player or third down back be more important than a DT coming right out of college that can run a 4.4? For a couple of reasons: First, we’re talking about the acquisition of a professional who has a decade in the business, is familiar with training camp, offseason workouts and the like, and anything else pretty much standard that goes with playing pro ball. He’s used to it. Second, he’ll probably do a whole lot better than the kid will because there’s no pressure or expectations to do so. He’ll be making a lot less money and if he tanks you can cut him with no guilt. (Unless, of course, he’s Albert Haynesworth)
Another talking point here would be that football has become an overwhelmingly “now” oriented business that places an very low emphasis on building for the future. Think about it: The contracts are getting shorter, and the worst thing that can happen to you as an NFL player is to be franchised. The Indianapolis Colts traded Peyton Manning for crying out loud. What I’m getting at is that most of these guys will see limited action if any at all, as opposed to already established talent that will be out there right away. Said established talent will likely be cut after the one year contract is up, and if the fifth round safety taken the year before doesn’t produce he’ll be out of there as well. But the veteran will be on the field first.
5. Jon Gruden’s segment is total overkill
I can’t believe I’m saying this since I love Jon Gruden, but seriously this “Gruden’s Quarterback Camp” or whatever the hell it’s called annoys me to no end. I’m sure Gruden still breaks down countless hours of film per week, but it just seems desperate when you consider he could have almost any NFL job he wants. He needs to get out of the Monday Night Football booth and back onto the field because it’s clearly an obsession that he can’t live without, so why not live it out and go coach again? And does he call each and every one of these college coaches and ask them what their exact intentions were on each individual call from scrimmage? I’d be mad as hell if I was a coach of some highly touted college football program, and flipped the channel to see Bride of Chucky telling a guy who hasn’t even graduated yet what my original plan was for that specific play. I’d get the guy’s home phone number, call him up and say “Who the hell do you think you are telling Jevarius what he should have done in a split second during a play that I designed that you had nothing to do with drawing up? In seven months from now you’ll be in Charlotte, North Carolina sharing the same hotel room floor as Ron Jaworski, who will probably be locked in his bathroom trying swallow golf balls. Plus, JeVarius had a calculus test the Monday after you filmed that. Let this kid be until after his parents see him participate in the ceremony.”
And during this segment, Gruden is constantly barking about how these plays they’re going over and talking about how they would “translate into the NFL”. Excuse me…but there’s 32 teams in the NFL, nobody’s officially drafted anybody yet, every single team runs different plays, and pro teams are running more college oriented offenses than ever. It’s not like there’s going to be any player who stands up to an NFL coach and says “Sorry coach, that’s not how we did it at UConn”. All of these guys are well aware that they are going to take steps to transition their game in order to make it work on Sundays as opposed to Saturdays. He’s not telling them anything they don’t already know.
6. Ryan Tannehill is a guaranteed bust
Man, where do I start here…For those of you who don’t have Sportscenter on a morphine simulated television drip, Ryan Tannehill was the quarterback for Texas A&M for the past season and a half. I say “season and a half”, because he didn’t actually start at the position until halfway through his junior year. Now, it’s not all that unusual for a college prospect to have played both positions. But it is unusual for one of the top QBs in a draft class to have only recently switched. And yes, I do realize that he played quarterback in high school and I don’t care. I played chess in high school, but Bobby Fischer would still whoop my ass and he’s been dead for four years. The point is, for every Tim Tebow there’s fifty-five hundred guys that don’t even warrant me looking up a single one of their names to make this comparison.
It’s hard to imagine a world where a signal caller on a 6-6 team would be the third ranked QB available in a draft class. Yet for some reason, nearly all of these college football disciples that can sing their alma mater’s fight song better than they can remember their own parents’ anniversary are expecting me to wad a hole through my shorts when I see a clip of Tannehill going 27 for 40 against Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. (Email me one reason to get pumped about that) The guy’s had nineteen collegiate starts at quarterback. And while the top two picks look extremely smart and carry themselves well, I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked if Tannehill churns his own butter.
I’m sure he’s a really nice guy who loves his mother’s homemade bread and all of that good stuff, but that doesn’t matter once you get on the football field. He is expected to go to the Dolphins at eight, and if he falls to the Seahawks at twelve it’ll be one of the dumbest picks in draft history because they just signed Matt Flynn from the Packers who did very well in Aaron Rodgers’ absence.
All of that said, I do have to admit that I do hold a little bit of bias because I’m not a fan of college football. And if you ARE a fan of college football there’s no way that you’re ever going to convince me that you know who all of these draft prospects are, even if you’re right. And of course all of this is just as hypothetical as the idea of the draft itself, but it will be interesting to look back on this piece in four or five years and see how many of these first rounders are still playing pro ball.
In conclusion, the draft will never be as important as the sports media has made it out to be. Period.
What does America think? http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120423173931AAgXhPi
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