The NFL Draft: A New American Holiday
One of my favorite sporting events of the year is now less than a month away: the NFL Draft. It is a day where jerseys are turned in for thousand-dollar suits, scores are converted into draft grades, and college football players become multi-millionaires without a fraction of professional experience.
Only football in America could bring such attention to an athletic event where there is no ball, field, score, or sweat (unless you are Brady Quinn). What once was considered an afterthought, the draft has been turned into a year round discussion beginning with the start of the college football season. It is considered a holiday by some diehard football fans.
These days scouts work non-stop to establish the best evaluation on every player in the nation. They know everything from their best 40-time to their bench press reps to their passion for the game. Hell, there is so much time, research, and evaluation of potential draftees that scouts could probably tell you the last time someone had a beer. Players see their stock go up and down more than Kirstie Alley’s weight.
But no matter what team you bleed for every NFL Sunday, fans always take notice of who is available to improve their organization’s chance of success for the upcoming season. And the 2010 NFL Draft has a handful of intriguing prospects:
Ndamukong Suh – Widely considered the best available player in this year’s draft class. Constantly drew double and triple teams at Nebraska. Mel Kiper has said Suh may be the best defensive tackle prospect he has seen in 30 years. But is a DT really worth the financial investment of a #1 overall pick?
Sam Bradford – Could have potentially been chosen over Detroit’s Matthew Stafford as last year’s top pick. However, Bradford decided to return for his junior season at Oklahoma, which turned out to be a nightmare. A terrible shoulder injury required season ending surgery only a few games into the season. He still decided to leave school. His stock went straight down, but is now straight up after arriving at the combine with a much bulkier frame. He is currently the odds-on favorite to become the St. Louis Rams QB of the future with the #1 pick.
C.J. Spiller – The most exciting college football player since USC’s Reggie Bush. This guy can fly in the open field. He is a true game breaker, and should be the first running back taken off the board early in the first round.
Tim Tebow – One of the best college football players of all-time. Not the most talented quarterback in the draft by any means, but has the heart and leadership qualities that have NFL GM’s drooling. It will be interesting to see which team will take a risk and grab him earlier than he should go.
In addition to this year’s collection of talent, the drama has increased even more. No longer will it be on a Saturday afternoon. ESPN has now made it a three day and night affair, starting with the first round on a Thursday April 22nd. The second and third rounds continue on Friday evening, with the remainder of the draft concluding Saturday morning.
When the date finally decides to arrive, all evaluations, player rankings, and mock drafts can be thrown out the window. Because as a GM, player, or fan, you never know which direction teams will head. That is what makes the NFL Draft exciting. It is the reason why I tune in to draft day!