It is February the 28. The 2014 NFL Draft begins on May 8, still a whopping two months and change away. BTSC switched in earnest to full draft mode in very early January, and the time since has been a blur of mock drafts (so....so many mock drafts), player breakdowns and animated discussion about BPA, Need and whether Steve McLendon really can play efensive end?
Even the most fervent, devoted draftniks among us are surely beginning to feel those first pangs of draft malaise, or what is commonly referred to here as "draft burnout". It is perfectly understandable, do not be ashamed. I consider myself wholly dedicated to all things draft related, but truly there is only so many times a man can see Louis Nix mocked to the Steelers without wanting to set fire to the Radio City Music Hall and run off into the wild, a place where there is a distinct absence of Mel Kipper and NFL Network ( I would miss Mike Mayock though).
So instead of another mock draft, rumination on the Steelers greatest needs or a discussion on the size of Jadaveon Clowney's right toe nail, I'm going to spend some time celebrating the thing itself, as opposed to the process.
Parity. The NFL's trump card in professional sports. It all begins and ends with the NFL Draft.
The English Premier League (soccer) is the most watched Sports league in the world, and it is the fourth highest grossing professional sports league in the world (behind America's big three). Everton FC and Aston Villa have competed in this league since its new incarnation in 1992, and have consistently finished between 5th and 15th. For the next decade, what positions will they finish year in year out? Between 5th and 15th. Barring a financial takeover from a mob of billionaire Russians, I'd bet my life on that.
The Jacksonville Jaguars on the other hand are currently enjoying an abysmal run of performances. Since their inception as an expansion team in 1995, they really don't have much to write home about. The roster is bereft of talent, and when I say bereft I mean absolutely devoid. Now ask me where they will be in a decade (beside's London)? Honestly who knows, they could very well be in the midst of a record setting dynasty or a 19-0 season. That's the NFL, and that's parity. With the proper guidance and smart drafting any team can become a winner very quickly.
The NFL draft is the embodiment of hope. No team can be kept down in the basement unless they bring it upon themselves, and no team can remain atop the mountain for too long. The constant flux of winners and losers from year to year attests to the success of the NFL draft, it achieves parity.
Being born an Aston Villa fan all but assures you a bleak and rather dismal existence, living off the scraps thrown to you by better teams. Yes, you play top flight football, but your only chance of glory is making a run at a lesser cup.
Now to be a Jaguars fan... there are little high draft slot shaped rays of hope splitting the cloudy sky as I type.
But it's not just for the losers. There are 7 rounds, and all through out the draft stashed away are Hines Ward's, Antonio Brown's and Aaron Smith's waiting to be uncovered. Every pick is potential building block to a championship. And lest we forget there are the undrafted and shunned Donny Shell's and James Harrison's that occasionally break through. There's nothing in the sporting world that screams potential more than the NFL Draft.
There are other sports which feature drafts, like the NBA or the NHL. But lets face it, they pale in comparison to the NFL. As a Lakers fan since 2006, I've never particularly enjoyed a draft because I've never been invested. But in reality, its got two measly rounds and if your not in the lottery your pretty much screwed. The inconvenient truth about basketball is it is usually very obvious who will be great,and you usually only get a few of them per draft at best, the rest generally just make up the numbers. There are few, if any Tom Brady's in the NBA.
From a marketing standpoint, the NFL draft is sheer genius. It turns a sport that runs from September to early February into a 12 month, round the clock cycle. It has us hooked, and gives us something to live for so to speak during the off season. It dominates headlines and In my opinion is hugely responsible for the NFL's dominance. I mean just look at what the combine does to us. It's ridiculous how engrossing huge behemoths of men running in skin tight clothing is. It's discussed for weeks leading up the event, and it is analysed right up until the draft itself.
I may have poked some light hearted fun above, but perhaps the best aspect of the NFL draft is that it includes every average fan, and enables them with the right to voice their opinion. Yes, they may not know the ins and outs of a zone blitz, but they do know what they perceive to be their teams biggest need, and they have their eye on a prospect.
Mock drafts and discussion between like minded fans is the lifeblood of the draft, it's what makes it tick. We are all invested in our teams, and we all want something to talk about .Multiply that with the almost endless possibilities of a 7 round Draft, and you get what we are experiencing now.
Last , but not least, it's just a very exciting event. It is probably the best thing in sports as far as I'm concerned
Who are we going to pick? Who do we need to pick? Are we going to trade up or down? Are other teams going to trade up or down? What if we don’t get who we want? Will Justin Gilbert be there at 15? Is Mike Evans really a stud? The Jets BETTER not trade up for Revis!! Landry Jones, are you actually kidding me? Can Steve Mclendon actually even play defensive end?
So for the endless entertainment you provide us with, and the rays of hope you provide downtrodden franchises... Here's to you NFL Draft.