The NFL Draft begins Thursday, and although no fan is quite sure who his team will pick, there are a few certainties for the weekend.
First, fans of 31 teams will vow that it is this draft that puts their team over the top.
Second, New York Jets fans will boo their pick and vow that it is this draft that puts their team back a decade.
Third, there will be entirely too much talk about a player that will likely amount to nothing in the NFL – Tim Tebow. In fact, I was completely conflicted about even bringing him up because now I can be labeled one of those sports writers.
And finally, come Monday there will be lots of talk about which team had the best draft and which team blew it, and ultimately, it will amount to one of the most overrated, overhyped events in sports.
Pop quiz: who was your favorite baseball team’s first round draft pick last year? Or your favorite hockey team’s? You probably don’t know. Maybe you know your favorite basketball team’s first round pick because team rosters are so small, but nonetheless, none of these drafts get near the hype of the NFL draft.
Why? To be honest, I’m not sure. Maybe it is America’s love of college football, maybe it is just a way for football fans to feel like the season is forthcoming despite the long summer or maybe it is just a contrived media event to create revenue – I’m not sure.
No matter what the reason, the misguided excitement is still there. There will be endless speculation this week about who is the best offensive tackle or safety available in the draft, and while fans may know the prospects now, come football season, most average fans won’t know the names of their team’s offensive linemen or defensive backs.
Fans will argue to boot who is the better offensive tackle prospect: Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung or Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga. It’s a ridiculous conversation because few fans have ever seen either player play outside of the clips shown on ESPN with a Mel Kiper, Jr. voiceover. Furthermore, how many fans really know how to evaluate an offensive tackle’s performance and projectability? (Note: “Projectability” is not a real word. It is a word that has been created for events such as the NFL Draft).
I’m a diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan, and I remember that the Chiefs supposedly had the best 2008 draft behind two first round picks: defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and offensive tackle Branden Albert. Those two were supposed to change the Chiefs’ fortunes. Well guess what? The Chiefs are still terrible. Dorsey is largely considered a bust, and although Albert is a solid contributor, he is by no means the star that he was projected to be. It turns out the best pick the Chiefs made in that draft was third-rounder Jamaal Charles, a pick that wasn’t talked about at all on draft day or soon thereafter.
And you don’t have to look further than the Bay Area to see the overhyping of the NFL Draft. Just consider the last times the 49ers and Raiders had the No. 1 overall pick. San Francisco selected Alex Smith, Oakland got JaMarcus Russell. It doesn’t take an expert to assess how those picks worked out. At the time, however, they were seen as franchise-changers.
Then there is Tim Tebow. He is the best evidence that the NFL Draft is a contrived media event. He was a great college player, but most everyone agrees he doesn’t project to be much of an NFLer. Yet SportsCenter dedicates segments to him and his “new throwing motion,” more articles are written about him than projected No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford and lastly, and most ridiculously, the NFL invited him to attend the draft, even though he probably won’t be picked on the first day! It’s as if the media will milk everything they can out of him before he inevitably flames out in the pros.
This is the part of the article where I would normally make my mock draft, because that is fun for us sportswriters to do – but I will refrain because that would be blasphemous after this article, no?
Tim Tebow never accepted Daniel Bohm’s friend request, and there has been ill will ever since. Initiate the healing process at firstname.lastname@example.org.