Rumors. Speculation. Guess work. Long shots. Trades? All of these words go into the description of the typical NFL Player Draft. Each team tries to prepare a list of certain players that most fit their particular needs or wants.
In this process, there are many long hours, miles traveled, and sleepless days and nights. Every Owner, General Manager, Coach, Scouting Director, Player Personnel Director, and most likely an army of Secretaries get down to the life's blood work of restocking their teams with new players. No stone is left unturned, no possibility ignored, no chance that a mistake is made that would allow a player from the most remote program in the nation to go unnoticed.
Still, with all the technology available and with the keenest eyes in their field of expertise giving input, it will always come down to one thing: that the Draft is a crap shoot full of questions, wrapped in an enigma, surrounded by uncertainty.
Let's say "player x" is available in a particular round. He has all the intangibles and size and qualities your team is looking for. Mr. Goodell approaches the podium and announces "The (team) select...Player X from (college team)". Is the process complete?
Not by a long shot. Even though every pertinent detail of "player x" has been analyzed from his character to his favorite color, after the selection comes the hard part. Now, there is a potentially menacing factor to deal with: the player's Agent. Then, after all the seemingly important "leg work" and phone calls, etcetera, the negotiations begin.
We assume the contract details have been worked out, now onto the easy stuff. The Official Team Organized Activities (mini camp, post draft camp, etc.) begin with your brand spanking new "player x" out on the practice field. He looks good, smooth, fluid, very atheletic, but there's seems to be a problem.
Coach said to cover the "A" gap. Player "X" stands still with the look every coach dreads: the "Duh, what's an "A" gap, coach?" Or, worse yet, the new guy runs a non--contact drill and collapses into a heap grabbing a long--term rehab body part. Can you feel the chills running down the spines of the entire organization?
So, after every single part of the entire process has been thought through, re--thought through, and re-re-thought through, after all the talk and scouting about the player has been done, after the long eleven--plus hour car drive (or red--eyed, uncomfortable plane flight), after the meetings and negotiations( the hair pulling give and take session), after you thought everything was sign, sealed, and delivered....
Then this happens. It still revolves around the "question mark". There are no guarantees, no sure things, no fool--proof measures. It is still a shot in the dark. No matter how high a draft pick, or how low a pick, or even still an undrafted signing of a player, injury and "thick headedness" can be a cruel equalizer.
Many thanks to the guy who had his name legally changed to "Question Mark", and his band called The Mysterians, for our theme of this article. The question marks that surround every potential NFL player, a.k.a. "the mysterian", or "player x", will forever be a part of the most longed--for, the most important, the most publicized event of the NFL off season. It will always be a major factor in the "gamble" called the NFL Draft.
Let the games begin. "Uno, dos--uno, dos, tres, quatro...".