As last weekend approached, my anticipation for the NFL draft was at an all-time high. Having watched countless hours of draft coverage courtesy of everyone’s favorite guru, Mel Kiper, and his loyal crony Todd McShay, I was ready to finally see the picks unfold.
Except there was one minor problem: The draft wasn’t to commence until April 25, yet another week down the line. This confused me as I recalled how much airtime ESPN had already devoted to the draft. I personally couldn’t imagine sitting through another week of exhausting analysis and speculation, hearing the same stories and rumors regurgitated time and time again.
So here I am now, fully burned out on the NFL draft with another five days to go—certainly an unenviable position. But how did I get to this low point? Blame the oversaturation of draft coverage provided by media outlets, most notably ESPN, who coincidentally owns the full rights to the draft.
The NFL draft is a whole different animal than other professional sports drafts. Perhaps the most marked difference is the vast number of positions (compared to, say, just five in basketball) that make accurate projections nearly impossible on a grand scale.
Will a team draft the best available player, or will they draft to fit a specific need? Have they been truthful with draft analysts who have made it their singular goal to pry into each team’s business, or have they been misleading?
These questions are just a few of the variables that make NFL draft projections a fragile house of cards, sitting pretty until one minor occurrence throws everything into disarray.
Sure, it’s no secret that Georgia’s Matthew Stafford, Baylor’s Jason Smith, and Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry have solidified themselves atop almost everyone’s draft board. But all it takes is a team trading up into the top 10 to spoil Kiper’s months of tireless prognostication.
Theoretical situation: The Washington Redskins trade up into the first eight picks to ensure the services of USC quarterback Matt Sanchez. An earlier than anticipated Sanchez selection would provide each team making a subsequent pick with the option of choosing a player previously thought to be unattainable.
Long story short: One unexpected move has the potential to completely reshuffle the deck.
So why do media outlets insist upon providing the public with the same hearsay analysis weeks, if not months, ahead of time when it is sure to be highly inaccurate? With lots of airtime to fill, broadcasters provide excessive draft coverage for die-hard NFL fans who crave any offseason NFL coverage, myself included, despite its many pitfalls.
But it’s time to take a stand. Just because we love the NFL doesn’t mean we have to tune in to the hours and hours of mindless repetition that comprise ESPN’s draft coverage. The draft will still be thoroughly intriguing and entertaining, regardless of whether we stay up on Kiper’s most recent mock first round.
The real question should be, will any of the players selected actually live up to the expectations set out for them by teams and draft analysts alike? But that’s a question for another day, and another column.
For now I’ll be watching baseball, trying to resist the urge to flip on ESPN.