As I previously stated, I absolutely love watching the NFL Draft. Those who consider this event a "waste of time" might want to re-consider their opinion. It's all because of one man: Mel Kiper Jr.
Since 1984, Mel has provided in-depth (and sometimes painstaking) coverage of the annual NFL Draft, full of his prognostications, some of which have been right on (Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger) while others have been rather laughable (Akili Smith).
While everyone knows that Mel's quaffed and sedentary hair is a legendary part of his persona, an overlooked part has to be something that is with him most every time he is on camera: the pen.
Each time that ESPN has a "draft special" (and we will see plenty more with him and Todd McShay over the next two weeks), Mel appears on camera in almost perfect form, most of the time in the expanded head shot, where his arms aren't visible.
Then, on the very first question, regardless of who he is talking about, Mel flails his arms in a circular motion towards the camera, and you see that pen...just about every time.
Whenever I see Mel on, I look for that pen, just to make sure that he is on his game. You might find that if Mel doesn't have pen in hand, he is probably making an outlandish prediction, like the Akili Smith fiasco when he would "resurrect" the Bengals franchise. That task actually went to Carson Palmer in 2003.
I guess you could say that the pen is a part of Kiper...it makes him whole. It gives him his uncanny knowledge of every player in the draft. Take that pen away, and he is just another average joe with great hair making picks that people will most likely ignore.
But, when you see that pen in Mel's hand, you know he is for real. He is undoubtedly focused on whatever team, player, or round is the subject, and he is ready to make the dead-on balls accurate prediction.
If you don't see the pen, you can either turn the channel, or wait for John Clayton's stone face, Chris Mortensen's suaveness or Chris Berman's latest nickname or unintelligible noise.
The point is to never underestimate the power of the pen. When the pen is there, Kiper is a veritable Nostradamus of the draft. When he is sans pens, you might want to duck all the bombs that he will launch.
When the draft comes in eight days, look for many things. Look for who goes where, trades, surprises and shockers. But, also look for Mel's pen, which if not in hand usually means that he is resting before his next onslaught of player knowledge.
When it re-assumes its place in his hand, everything about the player comes full circle. If he says he's a stud, your team is guaranteed a playoff berth. If he says he will be a disappointment, toss your own hands up in frustration and wait until next year.
The pen is indeed mightier than the hair.