Tomorrow begins one of the most overrated events in sports: The NFL Draft. To me, the draft really exemplifies the over the top obsession fans and the media have with the NFL. Who is your team goint to pick? Will they trade the pick? How did your team do in the draft? It's all you hear from the second the Super Bowl ends.
From the day they step on campus, college players aren't measured by their success on the field. Instead, the media focuses on what their prospects are for making the NFL. Star juniors are bombarded constantly with the "are you coming back for your senior season" questions. And guys who have been great in the college ranks are denegrated if they are not considered "draft worthy."
ESPN is the greatest culprit in this draft hysteria. Mel Kiper, Junior has spent the same number of days in an NFL front office that you and I have. The draft hype usually starts the day after the previous year's selection day. I'm sure Mel could give you his top 20 for the 2011 draft right now. The "mock drafts" start the Monday after the Super Bowl--and change continuously as Player X has a bad combine workout or Player B had a great pro day on campus.
All of the hype has created a new breed of football fan: "the Draftniks". To these guys, the regular season is played only to set up draft positions. They know the 40 times of every player eligible to be picked--including the second string left tackle at Eastern Washington State. And they aren't afraid to tell you about it--thinking that you are going to be impressed by their obsession.
Adding to the overrating of the draft is that the best players seldom are selected in the first few rounds. Quick, who was the Packers first round draft pick last year? How about their fourth rounder? How about their first round pick three years ago? The ultimate symbol of the uselessness of the draft is Tom Brady. He was taken in the sixth round. Why wasn't he the number one overall pick--given what he has done in his career? And if draft picks are so valuable, why do so many teams "trade down"? And why do their fans cheer when they do trade down? "Alright! We're trading down to get more picks!!"
The ultimate irony here is that tomorrow I will be at a "Draft Party" hosted by one of those geeks I was talking about before. I'm not really going for the endless analysis of Baltimore's number one--I'm just there for the beer and the hot wings.