As the days toward each draft tick away, one by one, football fans around the country get the scoop on upcoming collegiate players through Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay.
We don't all have the interactive scouting report computers that Kiper and McShay have, so we generally assume that they have the right idea and that we should re-evaluate our opinions.
To give an example of how McShay or Kiper so control fans' perceptions of the draft, look no further than a certain quarterback out of Missouri.
Sure, Blaine Gabbert doesn't have the deep accuracy, footwork, mechanics, experience in a pro-style offense, gaudy college stats or prodigious arm that predisposes many college quarterbacks to NFL success, but Todd McShay harped on Gabbert's intangibles and arm strength.
As fans, we were a bit hesitant to accept it at first.
However, after constant bombardment from the media that Blaine Gabbert was the best (or one of the best) quarterbacks in the draft, we softened to the idea.
We may not have thought of Gabbert as a top-tier quarterback in this draft, what with his 16:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio and inadequacy when in the pocket, but McShay heaped praise upon the quarterback.
The media latched onto McShay's praise, lauding the Missouri signal-caller for his intangibles and the like, and Gabbert became a symbol of being in-the-know with the draft post-January.
Why did we, as fans, allow Todd McShay to control our sense of thinking about quarterbacks in the draft?
We may not have even had a choice.
General draft opinion and the draft media go hand in hand—our opinions of draftees are established by the media and reinforced by the media.
Mel Kiper Jr. constantly lets us know about his 'Big Board' and the draft through his eyes.
It's not that we, the fans, allow the Kipers and the McShays to put a stranglehold on our opinions—rather, our own opinions are tossed aside as uninformed homer-ism while ESPN's view of a player is deemed as correct.
It is more powerful to hear the wrong thing over and over again than to hear the right thing once.
McShay's opinions on Gabbert (and other players in the past) trickled down through the channels of media through which we receive our draft information.
If McShay is wrong about Gabbert, it wouldn't matter—he'll still be a talking head next year, forcing his opinions down the throat of all forced to listen to him.
In 2007, a quarterback named JaMarcus Russell had put together a nice career at LSU, but clear red flags predisposed him to failure in the NFL.
We were talking about an inaccurate quarterback who liked too much to throw the ball down the field, regardless of whether or not the receiver was open.
In fact, beyond that, Russell had character concerns that were irreparable the second he set foot in Oakland.
Mel Kiper said, about Russell, "Jamarcus Russell is going to immediately energize that fanbase, that football team—on the practice field, in that locker room.
"Three years from now you could be looking at a guy that's certainly one of the elite top five quarterbacks in this league.
"...You're talking about a 2-3 year period once he's under center. Look out because the skill level that he has is certainly John Elway-like."
Are you kidding me? Mel Kiper still has a job, despite whiffing big on one of the biggest busts in NFL history.
Todd McShay, after Russell's pro day, said, "I can't remember being in such awe of a quarterback in my decade of attending combines and pro days.
"Russell's passing session was the most impressive of all the pro days I've been to. His footwork for such a big quarterback was surprising.
"He was nimble in his dropbacks, rolling out and throwing on the run. The ball just explodes out of his hands."
Kiper and McShay further perpetrate the belief that the analysts are mostly wrong.
Jake Locker was supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread come 2011, and Mel Kiper missed horribly on him, too.
Kiper said last April that "if you had to ask me right now who is going to be the number one pick in the 2011 draft, I would say it's etched in stone it's going to be Jake Locker.
"You can mark that down. Jake Locker, if he's not the number one pick, it's an upset."
Locker went on to have a terrible year and fell on many boards.
We believe in Kiper and McShay though, because being constantly bombarded by their typically wrong information is effective marketing by ESPN.
We become interested in guys we've never heard of, and we start defending guys we've never seen play.
It is vogue, in a sense, to buy into the analysis of Kiper and McShay, and we become scared to branch off and formulate our own opinions.
We heard nothing of James Carpenter leading up to draft day, but when the Seahawks picked him 25th, some fans rejoiced.
Others, brainwashed by the ESPN analysts, could only repeat what they had heard—to these without a personal opinion, Carpenter was a reach.
Bombardment breeds ignorance in our media-driven society, and the media has made it too easy for us to allow others to shape our own drafting opinions.
Mark my words that Blaine Gabbert will be unsuccessful in the NFL.
Or, better yet, form your own opinion.