I remember it like it was yesterday. It was very early in 1989. The Steelers had just concluded their 1988 campaign with a 5-11 record—their worst since 1969.
I don’t know where I found this list, but there it was on a piece of notebook paper: The top 20 or so prospects for the 1989 NFL Draft. Now, as I alluded to already, this was months and months before the draft. It was also years and years before the Internet, blogs and social media. How I was able to acquire such a list is beyond me, but I had it. Not only did I have this list, but I also got a pair of scissors, divided the names into tiny pieces of notebook paper, put those pieces of paper in a hat and proceeded to “draft” each player for the team whose turn it happened to be.
I was a weird teenager, but I apparently understood the concept of a draft lottery. Anyway, for the Steelers, who had the seventh pick in that spring’s draft, their pick turned out to be Barry Sanders...LMAO!!!!
Obviously, Pittsburgh didn’t wind up with Sanders in the actual draft. Instead, the choice was Tim Worley, running back, Georgia. Worley didn’t have much of a career in Pittsburgh, but he had been considered a top prospect heading into the draft and someone who was linked to the Steelers for many months.
I knew everything there was to know about Worley by the time the draft rolled around, even the fact that he had a pretty good Eddie Murphy impression.
My, how times have changed over the past three-plus decades. Here we are in March of 2021, and I still don’t know the name of that one running back from that one college who has been linked to the Steelers since their 2020 season ended nearly two months ago.
Unlike when I was a weird teenager, I actually have easy access to draft information, these days, and all the prospects I could ever want to read about. The draft world should be my oyster, but it’s just not. Don’t get me wrong, I do ultimately get myself up to speed on all the prospects and the mock drafts by the time the actual thing rolls around at the end of April, but I tend to put it off until, oh, about two or three weeks from now.
I don’t know why I lost my passion for draft coverage, but it is what it is. Maybe it’s because so many others put in the work with the mock drafts and the prospect rankings that I just don’t feel the hunger and/or urgency to go digging for the answers myself.
So when do you start to gear up for the draft? I realize there are some folks who start to anticipate the spring event in August (you know who you are). But what about the average Steelers fan? Do you start to prepare and study right after the season comes to a close? Do you wait until after the free agency period? Or maybe you’re like me—lazy and/or disinterested until the time is right.
I’ll let you ponder those questions while I take the time to go watch some film of one of the greatest prospects I’ve ever seen—Roy Hobbs in the movie, The Natural.