Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Do You Feel A Draft?

Mental Organism Designed Only for Drafting
God help us, it's NFL draft season again.
Only the NFL can turn what is essentially a very slow roll call into a three day television event, marked by months of breathless leadup. Then again, slap the NFL logo onto fat guys sweating through their Underarmor thongs in a dome in Indianapolis and you've got four days of non-stop coverage of the Combine, so your mileage may vary.

One of the reasons we as fans love the draft is because it allows us to pretend to be experts. Most of us have absolutely no goddamned idea who the fourth-best guard prospect in the draft is, especially if they didn't go to an SEC school, but that won't stop us from parroting names we heard, and nodding sagely about the problems they might have with speed rushers, or how they held their own against top flight competition at the Senior Bowl. (Side note - apparently this year's #4 offensive guard prospect is Oregon's Chris Long.) We can yammer about our team needs and make our own mock drafts and breathlessly wonder if some guy we heard about once on a podcast will still be there in the fourth round because, hey, the fact that we actually heard of a guy our buddies didn't means we're some kind of expert.
And that's the other reason we love the draft - the fact that nobody actually knows anything, especially not the "experts". Tiny, shiny-haired M.O.D.O.K. lookalike Mel Kiper Jr. and faceless quant Todd McShay do mock draft after mock draft after mock draft, all of which disagee with one another and all of which are guaranteed to be wrong because they do not, can not take into account trades. But the point of these mock drafts - and the reason they keep getting revised over and over after every rumor over a Wonderlic score or a site visit - that they're really fantasies. Reading a mock draft and skipping to who Mel thinks the Eagles are going to pick this week is the football fan equivalent of going dress shopping, trying on one pick after another before whirling off coquettishly to trade a 2 and a 4 to San Diego for an inside linebacker who's about to sprain his knee.
It's all dreams and wishes until the actual draft happens, at which point we A)try to figure out who the hell our favorite teams actually drafted and if they're any damn good, because we've never heard of most of them and B)scan the lists of draftees to see if anyone from our alma maters got picked. That's it, once it's over and they pop Mel and Todd back into cryogenic suspension for another few months.
So go on. Enjoy it. Pretend you know who Garrett Gilkey of Chadron State is, and that you knew about him all along. No one will call you on it if you don't call us on namedropping a Washaun Ealey here or an Alex Dunnachie there. And when it's over, and our favorite teams have drafted a bunch of guys whose names never even crossed our radars, we can, with relief, go back to just caring about those very few names and stop pretending we know who the other guys are.
At least until next year.

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