The NFL draft: overblown

It’s time to play the contrarian and write about the reasons why the NFL draft is overblown. The expanded two-hour ESPN SportsCenter draft coverage gave me plenty of ammunition.

There are no marquee players in this year’s draft. ESPN is trying their little hearts out to make Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers look like Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer but it doesn’t work. Both ‘premiere’ quarterbacks have fewer than two years of major-college starting experience. Last year’s top two quarterbacks started for four years. I have a feeling that if Cal went 8-3 and Utah went 9-2 people wouldn’t be talking about these two. Utah and Cal had arguably (no argument in Utah’s case) their best season in school history. Naturally the props should go to the coach, then the quarterbacks.

I feel the same way about the ‘big three’ running backs this year. Yesterday Mel Kiper said that you might as well pick a name out of a hat. Last year the top RB, Stephen Jackson, wasn’t drafted until the 24th pick of the first round. Is he rated any lower than Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, or Cedric Benson, one of whom could be taken as soon as the second pick? Plus, when the top-rated running back (Ronnie Brown) didn’t even start on his college team last year, you have to wonder.

Since most fantasy footballers have ADD, the NFL’s draft pace is torturously slow. Most live fantasy drafts give one minute per pick, and almost no one takes the entire clock. The NFL’s first round is fifteen minutes per pick. You’d think that after months of research that the pick would be obvious, but there are a lot of things to consider. When a team goes on the clock they have to:

  • Check their draft board.
  • Take calls from other teams offering a trade.
  • Have the GM and the coach wrestle. The winner gets to draft ‘their’ guy.
  • Make fun of Mel Kiper’s hair. Forget the hair, what about those bags under his eyes?
  • Order Chinese food.

By the time all that’s done, there’s less than a minute to spare. Think about this. The 49ers will have their pick in the bag by the time the draft starts. If all 31 teams after them takes the entire 15 minutes to make their picks it will be almost eight hours until their next pick. How many beers could you drink in that time?

I know, NFL teams are playing with billions of dollars at stake and a really cool trophy while I play for no money and a trophy that smells like old beer that I have to give away next year like the Stanley Cup. That’s kind of nitpicking, though, isn’t it?

The team talked about the most in ESPN’s draft coverage? The Dolphins. They have to be loving that A.J. Feeley for a second-rounder trade and Lamar Gordon for a third-rounder. Lately the Dolphins have been like that guy at your draft who brings the fantasy football magazine from 2001. In the NFL, that guy gets fired. In our league, that guy gets an extra shot of some nasty liquor.

Do you think any pitcher will beat Jaret Wright’s eight runs in 5 1/3 innings for worst win of the year? Wright better be calling Leo Mazzone, and soon. He did better than Rob Bell, who gave up ten earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. I guess Lou Pinella thought he was going to turn things around. The Yanks scored thirteen runs in the second inning. Three more wins in a row and they’re at .500. Yes, I’m enjoying the next few weeks while the White Sox still have a better record than the Yanks.

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