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Why I Hate the NFL Draft

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I probably should have been a better wet blanket and described how much I loathe the draft beforehand. But as I always say, late hate is better than no hate at all. Let’s just go ahead and get into why the draft should take its talents to the recycle bin.

1. The lead up. Ryan Mallet is a thug! Nick Fairly skipped dinner with the Dolphins! Cam Newton can’t call plays! Mark Ingram may go early in the first round! OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD!

The lead up to the draft is like a bunch of teenage girls gossiping about all the hottest Hollywood actors. There’s rumor, exaggeration, talk of “strong arms” and personality. Good Lord, sometimes I’m confused about whether the media wants to watch these guys play football or take them behind the bleachers and make out.

Most of what’s printed amounts to nothing at all. For example, in this year’s draft the bulk of the media, especially the big dogs at ESPN, said over and over that there was no clear #1 pick, yet when the Carolina Panthers beeped Cam Newton 911 and called him on his cell phone, it sure didn’t feel like a huge surprise.

The lead up even had Running Back Mark Ingram and his agent fooled into thinking he had a chance to be called in the top 10 of the first round. In this pass-oriented league, where backs are increasingly needed to block and be short yardage power runners, guys who have already had surgery on their knees are lucky to be in the conversation.Yet and still, it felt like forever by the time the Saints chose Ingram at 28, even though it was about right looking at the circumstances.

This shows that during the draft, common sense takes a seat in the back of the bus right next to its lonely ass sister the truth.

2. Draft Manipulation. Many of those baseless, common-senseless (Is this a word? I’m rolling with it) stories are the result of teams and the media working in concert to drive down the value of players. Teams would love to draft above their expectations. Scouts leak information (sometimes untrue) to a media that is increasingly hustling for clicks. A media that holds stories for fact-checking about as well as a toddler holds urine.

Reading anything draft-related during the month of April is really only beneficial to people whose blood pressure is too low.  When it comes to blatant things that aren’t true—example, Auburn had no pass plays—I’m more amused than anything else. But when you start attacking the character of 20 year old boys for the sake of clicks and signings, the draft starts to feel a little skeevy.

I was happy to see the guys over at NFL Gridiron take on the case of Ryan Mallet who they say, explicitly, was the victim of a smear campaign. The article is really in depth and a good read if you have the time. I can’t remember there being such a coordinated attempt to drive down a guy’s draft value in recent history. For that reason alone, I’m hoping that Mallet becomes a real star in the league.

3. The Draft is A Useless Spectacle. The NFL’s fearless leader Roger Goodell, who spends most of his days taking dictation on three way calls with Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, and Dan Snyder, finally put all his notes together. Borne of those glorious notes, was a piece of shit pro-union opinion editorial he published in the Wall Street Journal.

One of Goodell’s key points in support of the CBA process is that without it there’d be no draft. While Goodell makes a draft-free NFL sound like utter chaos with large shirtless black men running the streets desperately trying to find people with pebble colored leather balls that need’a throwing and’a catchin’, the mere thought of having no draft set my loins a fire—and not in a pill commercial way.

Quite frankly, the draft is really for entertainment value. It doesn’t benefit the players, teams, or fans in any real way. I like the idea of all college guys being free agents when they come out of the draft. The same way I graduated from college and looked for a job that both fit my skill set and hopefully was in a location where I wouldn’t mind living, football players should be able to do the same. I’d like to see each team go for whatever players they want and need. And if nobody wants to play for your team, as Tim Gunn says, you better “make it work.”

Once in the league, players have to wait 6 years for free agency, I like the idea of giving them some freedom at the beginning. If owners were serious about spending more wisely, they’d see a benefit to less speculation and more practicality. Speculation can do to a sports league the same thing it does to gas prices. Oh Hi David Stern, I didn’t see you standing there.

Another advantage to dropping the draft is that it would encourage teams to discover talent down draft, and be less likely to blow their budget on a first round pick. That’s part of the reason why drafting high is both a gift and a curse for many teams. I’d rather see my team trade out of the first round than take a high cost first round pick if the talent available doesn’t fit their top priorities.

Often teams are so busy playing strategy in the draft, trying to keep certain players away from other teams, appeasing fans who want certain “stars,” shopping for personnel that fit becomes an afterthought.

I know that the draft is a sacred lamb, but I’m sure we can find some other spectacle to promote, perhaps a national signing day of some sort? I’m flexible.

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