The Football Educator continues to breakdown the various aspects and dynamics that surround an NFL draft. Perhaps no day in the National Football League (other than Super Bowl Sunday) is focused upon as the round one of the annual college talent pool selection process. Fans love it. The bridge between college and professional football is never stronger than when the NFL’s Commissioner utters “and with the first pick of the first round, the (insert your favorite NFL team) selects (insert your favorite college player from your favorite university).
Thus starts the process of player selection that began only seconds after Mr. Irrelevant was pulled off the board the preceding year. From the regular season, to bowl games, to college all-star games, to the NFL Combine, to pro days and official visits, no other facet (and I dare say even free agency) grabs the attention of the fan base like the draft.
With it has sprung an entire cottage industry of draftniks and pundits, starting with irreparable Mel Kiper and now followed by former Scouts, Inc. own fresh faced Todd McShay. As ESPN began to harness control and coverage of the draft, Kiper became a household “basement” name to NFL fans sent downstairs (by mothers and wives) in late April to cheer and jeer their team’s picks. Masterfully McShay was brought on to counter the singular, in your face opinions of the “well quaffed” one.
Not to be out done, the NFL Network has gathered their own group of draft gurus centered round former Dallas Cowboy legend Gil Brandt. Brandt spent 28 seasons in the Cowboys Personnel Office and has stayed active over many years as a true “insider” to the NFL draft. I recall Brandt and late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis sitting at the start of the 40 yard dash in the RCA Dome every NFL Combine. Who knows what was discussed but more than likely it was the height, weight and speed of each player as they approached the start. Measurables ruled in Alameda, California for years. But I digress.
Google up the NFL draft and you’ll find over 19 million results and a myriad of websites with a unique angle or pitch of their own. TFE’s earlier post, NFL Draft Preparation? “Awesome, totally awesome!” was written to emphasize what this type of coverage has done to the participants and their agents in response. Talk about your spinoff industries!
All very interesting and entertaining information. It really is. I’ve learned quite a bit myself from outsider evaluations and ranking of college prospects. In fact the former Executive VP of Football Operations of the Denver Broncos was infatuated with mock drafts and projections. Much of the work done across the internet (including ESPN’s own Scouts Inc.) was used in our own War Room. Imagine that?
Be a responsible fan
It’s a bit like political polls that tend to sway a voter in one direction or another prior to the actual election. The powers that be want to get right to the outcome before the actual event. Football decision makers are only human and can be swayed just as easily as the electorate.
So what’s the point? As you make and pass judgment at the end of the season on your head coaches and General Managers, just be sure to take everything in context, including what you read and where you get your information. It’s worth being inquisitive and digging back into the archives. I’ll give you two resources to do just that; first, the archived grades of ESPN’s Scouts, Inc. (though you have to subscribe to their Insider account) and second, the draft history of Pro-Football-Reference.com.
The second is a nice counter balance to the first, or whatever other masterfully quaffed draft guru you happen to subscribe to.