Is that a gun pointed at my head?
If it is, I guess I have to write about the NFL draft.
So I will.
You may be disappointed.
Let me start by saying that nothing in sports is more over-hyped and delivers less than the circus known as the NFL draft of college prospects.
The self-anointed “experts” start to rate the following year’s candidates almost immediately after the current draft ends.
I’m sure you can find the probable 2023 list somewhere.
It is a relentless, constantly changing order of who are the best available players for the pickings next April.
Then comes the big day. Or, as it is now, three days.
Someone said to me last weekend, “that NFL draft was really spectacular, wasn’t it?”
I say, “in what way?”
And that, my friends, was the end of the conversation.
The fact is, you can only see those drafted put on a cap of their new team, and get a bear hug from Commissioner Roger Goodell so many times.
One of many hugs
Here’s what I know.
The multitude of analysts and prognosticators only what they’re told or what they read.
They go with the consensus, until a trade they never knew about, upsets the apple cart a little.
Everyone chosen seems to have a tremendous upside, and if they criticize or question a pick, it’s I usually because it caught them by surprise and they think a team lost its mind making a particular selection.
One thing is certain.
Unlike the General Managers whose careers are at stake, those on the air are never held accountable.
This year’s extravaganza saw over a million maniacs storm Las Vegas, most of whom were wearing their favorite team’s jerseys, screaming their lungs out as a player’s name was announced.
A million in Vegas
They went crazy over a defensive lineman who they might have never head about or seen play.
Look, there are those special drafts, which feature star quarterbacks but this wasn’t one of them.
It was a draft emphasizing linemen on both sides of the ball.
Edge rushers on defense as they’re now called to get to the QB, guards and especially tackles to protect the passers.
Of course, wide receivers were in demand too.
Fans were aghast that the Green Bay Packers, obviously in need of targets for Aaron Rodgers, who’s a happy camper for a change, drafted a linebacker and a defensive linemen before they plucked a wide receiver from North Dakota State, of all places.
What were the Packers thinking, for crying out loud?
Well, I’m going out on a limb and say the Packers personnel people, who have been working on the draft for a year, know a helluva lot more than you, me, the TV experts, and anyone else you’d can name.
Do they make mistakes? Sure. Sometimes big ones.
But they know a lot more than outsiders who casually watch a game or two and have absolutely no clue as to how thorough and extensive teams have scouted hundreds of players over several seasons.
Big school, small school?
Georgia, the national champions had a record number of picks, 15.
But a guy from South Dakota State does’t have to take a back seat from a player who performed on a power team.
Not if he has the goods.
Not that we’re comparing, but there once was a first-round choice from Mississippi Valley State.
His name was Jerry Rice.
I was amused at two moments in the draft that both centered around Bill Belichick.
One, was when the Patriots drafted a guard, Cole Strange, in the first round.
The cameras were into the L.A. Rams war room, and it showed head coach Sean McVey and GM Les Snead chuckling when the pick was announced.
The media, most of whom have no idea and are quick to fuel controversy and sensationalism, reported that the Ram duo were laughing at Belichick’s choice.
They were heard saying, “ we wasted our time watching him thinking he’s be at 104, maybe”.
Actually, the Rams were indeed surprised at Strange being chosen that early, but they weren’t being arrogant about it.
Every team knows how grueling and difficult the draft is, and there is nothing but respect for what they all go through.
Then, with one of their three fourth round picks, the Patriots drafted a quarterback, Bailey Zappe, from Western Kentucky.
The social media world erupted.
How can the Pats choose a QB a year after Mac Jones was taken on the first round.
Wasn’t he the new franchise quarterback?
Of course, but maybe, just maybe, New England saw a smart, strong leader, who might, just might, compete for the backup role.
No way it was about a loss in confidence of Jones.
That’s a sensational rush to judgment that simply is not the case.
Naturally, it is fashionable to start questioning Belichick’s vision.
Now, I’m not going to the wall defending everything BB does, but he has been one of the superior football minds in history, and he did make the playoffs last season after drafting Jones 10th a year ago.
But I guess when Tom Brady leaves, he’s mortal.
Well, they all are, and the Tampa Bay Bucs who didn’t with #12 last season, and might not in 2022, will definitely not when the GOAT departs for good.
( Didn’t I say I would never use those initials? Oh well.)
I did peek during the final day to see how the draft was going, and I found Ice Cube doing a number to what looked like the same one million fans I saw the opening night.
On the screen the latest pick was flashed, showing the team, the pick, the round and the name.
I think it was the sixth round.
I’m not sure anyone out there had the foggiest who the player was.
Finally, when it was all over, the coup de grace of how ridiculous the draft coverage has come to be.
Grading the draft.
Who came through big-time. Who failed miserably.
Which teams earned an “A” grade?
Which ones fell to “D-minus” ?
Truth be told, we will have no idea how a team fared in last week’s NFL draft for three years. Maybe more.
Some will hit the jackpot next season.
But most will spend the next few seasons watching these rookies develop.
It’s a process.
And it’s a lot more than who was #1.
It’s really more about the mid-picks.
How many stick.
How many become assets.
The only way fans will learn who they are, will be when they get to play.
In the meantime, the NFL draft remains showtime.
Millions show up, millions watch on TV.
If I have to write about it next year, I will write the same thing.