If you’re a mega-fan of all things related to the annual event, you’re probably content and totally full with the 2022 NFL Draft now officially in the books.
Haha, you’re probably not. You’ve likely already moved on to the 2023 NFL Draft and its potential cast of characters. You’ve probably started your research on every prospect, every position and every measurable imaginable.
I don’t blame you, either. I’d do the same thing if I were in your shoes. In fact, I was in your shoes way back in the late-’80s and early-’90s and was so obsessed with the annual NFL Draft, I literally could not sleep in the days leading up to the event.
Of course, back then, you didn’t have access to the Internet because it didn’t exist (at least not for domestic consumption). You had to rely on hard copies of draft publications to be produced by the handful of gurus of the day; Mel Kiper was one, and he certainly had a few predecessors and contemporaries, but only just a few.
I didn’t buy any of these hard-copy draft publications that consisted of big boards, position rankings and probably mock drafts. Why? I didn’t have any money. I did have access to the local newspapers in my area at the time—the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Press—who, if my memory serves me correctly, didn’t start to really cover the annual NFL Draft, and who the Steelers might possibly take, until maybe two weeks before it started.
I devoured every single morsel of draft news I could get my hands on. I also sat around each day waiting for the local sports report just to see what they had to say about the upcoming draft and which players I should expect the Steelers to be interested in. ESPN certainly had its fair share of coverage, but it wasn’t anything close to what it has become today when it doesn’t have to jockey with the rodeo for daily air-time.
You know how you love to watch and comment on the Combine, the annual pre-draft evaluation extravaganza held in Indianapolis and televised for an entire week every February?
I had no clue the Combine even existed back in the 1980s, when it was initially called the National Invitation Camp (1982-1984) before merging with rival pre-draft evaluation camps in 1985 and being rebranded the Combine, as per the event’s Wikipedia Page.
The Combine became an annual televised event, starting in 2004, but to be totally honest with you, I still didn’t really know about it until maybe 10 years ago.
What a time to be totally into the annual NFL Draft. Thanks to the Internet and social media, there is access to countless sites dedicated to covering the immensely popular event. If you so desire, you can learn about every single draft prospect, their measurables, who they visited with, who visited with them, what they had for dinner with the people who visited with them, etc.
You can use all of the info at your disposal to create your own big boards, positional rankings and, of course, mock drafts.
To reiterate, I’d be doing exactly that if I was young and/or totally into the NFL Draft in the information age.
Thanks to podcasts and blogs, you may even be able to interview prospective or actual draft picks yourself.
BTSC’s own Jeremy Betz and Andrew Wilbar, two aspiring draft gurus, interviewed Chris Oladokun, a quarterback from South Dakota State and the Steelers' final pick in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft, last week on their The Steelers Draft Fix podcast.
I couldn’t even fathom that back in the 1980s. That would have been like me interviewing Gordie Lockbaum, a versatile college star from tiny Holy Cross, who the Steelers selected in the ninth round of the 1988 NFL Draft.
I could have tried to arrange for an interview with Lockbaum by calling the Steelers’ offices, but they likely would have politely told me to get lost.
Now, you can simply hit a player up on social media, which may or may not work, but at least it works a lot of the time.
Today, I often mock and ridicule the extensive pre-draft coverage that seems to start the second the Steelers season comes to an end and doesn’t stop until well after the event is over (if it ever stops at all). But I’d probably flunk every class if I was in high school now and as into the draft as I was when I was a kid.
Therefore, aspiring young (and maybe even old) draft gurus, keep doing that research. Keep interviewing those players. Keep posting those big boards.
You never know where it could lead.