Thursday, April 26, 2012

What April 26th Means To Me: The NFL Draft

These are my general thoughts on the NFL Draft:

Mixed with a little...

Yes, that's Vladimir Putin riding a Ritz cracker.

It's easily among my favorite days of the year, and I'll admit its absolutely beyond stupid. It's essentially watching a scroll for 10+ hours on ESPN while listening to a bunch of blowhards talking completely out of their asses.  But considering the robust TV ratings for the draft every year, I'm not alone in my obsession.  For those who don't know much about it, The NFL draft is a three day period when each NFL team selects new players from the college ranks.  Each team is given one pick in seven different rounds (the order is based on last year's standings), but those picks can be traded for other picks (in both the current or future drafts) or already existing NFL players, so teams rarely come into draft day with their original seven.  The New England Patriots are masters of stockpiling picks, as they always seem to have a friggin' million.  It's annoying.

So what's so appealing about the draft?  Sounds boring, right?  Well, it is.  But...

There's a lot of mystery and misinformation surrounding the draft, which creates drama.  Over the past few years, teams have shrouded their intentions with such secrecy, and purposely provided the media with misinformation to throw off the scent over who they will select.  Also, draft prognosticating has become a cottage industry of pointlessness as countless websites offer their "mock drafts" (which never are ever close to accurate) and player evaluations, which are usually haphazardly put together by people without a true understanding of football.  The days leading up to the draft are filled with fun rumors of trades and selections, which always gives the actual draft a feeling of unpredictability because the results are always pretty different from the assumptions.

Now, do fans have even remote say over who their teams will select?  Not even a little.  Does that deter people like me from researching the hell out of the players, watching their YouTube highlights, and attempting to figure out which players will go where?  Of course not.  In fact, my buddy Aram and I start shooting each other draft related emails with thoughts and clips starting in late February.  Then we get together with our guides, mocks, and notes, and watch the 10+ hours of draft programming over the course of three days, even making a few bets with each other to raise the stakes.  And we sometimes tweet the aforementioned prognosticators when we discover they refer to a potential 6th round pick as "shifty, but not elusive."  Yes, I know what you're thinking...both of us are single. 

But I think the most appealing thing about the draft, and why football fans love it so much, is that it's the one day where you can be 100 percent optimistic about your team's chances next season.  Over the course of a few days, your favorite team adds a lot of talented players, and you are convinced each and everyone one can become all-stars, when in actuality, only a handful will remain with the team beyond a few years.  But since you never know if this year can be the year your team absolutely nails it...that optimism remains.  And this is probably why I've been obsessed with the NFL draft since I was 14. 

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