Draft Hype: A Hapless Endeavor

After the furious player movement that opened the league year, the NFL has gone almost quiet in recent weeks. Unless you’re interested in owners’ meetings or players in attendance of other sporting events, it’s a good time to explore one of your other hobbies. With no games, practice, or even permitted interactions between coaches and players, most football junkies are left to obsess over the upcoming draft. Sadly, all of the energy put into this event by fans, bloggers, and even the biggest of talking head names is an utter waste of time.

In the spring vacuum of football news, information must be generated to give readers their fix, their material. This largely comes in the form of mock drafts, made easy through generators on every major sports website. Any fan with a semblance of an opinion can make a mock draft. Some make them everyday. The news networks use them as teasers before ad breaks. The “gurus” make several revisions and reveal them slowly so there is always somethi- breaking news! Joe Retiredquarterback has dropped the top ranked quarterback after meeting him in Vegas over the weekend and experiencing his weak handshake. “No way a grip like that can handle an NFL ball, much less a Lombardi trohphy.” -@JoeRetiredQB. Looks like there’s been a ‘shake up at the top of the charts.

The main problem with a mock draft is that it is rarely very accurate. It is just not possible for a journalist, much less a fan, to understand what 32 different organizations are going to do throughout such a long and complex process. Between the trades that occur and all the surprise picks each year, there shouldn’t be any hope to get it right. Teams keep secret the way they value players in the name of competition and no matter their history in the draft, these rankings rarely see the light of day. But if they do, you can guarantee they belong to Jerry Jones.

Yet, everybody and their dad still simulates the action in hopes of seeing their preferred players on their team. That guy that keeps talking about his mock draft is like a guy who tells you about his fantasy football team, running down an imaginary roster of names whose collection mean nothing. Until true journalism and social media create an omnipotent force for predicting the draft order, the pre-draft hype won’t deserve interest.

If it isn’t a mock draft, it’s a manufactured authority’s latest position rankings. How so many people watch a suit on TV reveal the next player in their arbitrary rundown is amazing. When more than one list is available, they always seem to conveniently clash for instigation. Folks deserve better than this. Too much of the story is lost when the players get used as little objects to be lined up according to merit. The basis of such has been wrong year after year and ought to be reconsidered. Each year, players are chosen in the late rounds and go on to become stars. The faces of the Super Bowl this past year, Tom Brady and Richard Sherman, were found in the back end of the draft. On the flip side, many first round draft picks are considered busts before their first contract expires. Expectations for these selections have soared and a few famous faces of failure, Ryan Leaf and Jamarcus Russell, will never let us forget the shame of those that didn’t pan out.

Cowboy fans know full well not to expect the expected. Jerry Jones has averaged three trades in every four seasons during his reign as Cowboys’ GM. His pre-draft press conference was already surprising when he downsized the need for a running back and tipped his hand regarding a desire to trade. Worrying about pick number 27 is futile. If the trade is made, every single mock draft that was made in the last three months goes out the window. If not, the selection will not likely be a popular one.

Despite the draft-related pessimism, there is plenty to look forward to tonight. The team of Jason Garrett, Stephen Jones, and Will McClay have shown to be one of the top, if not the best, units in the league at getting a good haul come draft weekend. They showed some serious heart in stopping Jerry from getting Johnny Manziel last year. Instead, they drafted a Pro Bowl player, as has become the usual. All of the roster work that has been done to ensure the ability to draft the best player available will come to a head as the team operates without a specific position of need.

The results of the draft will not be immediate as they take several years to play out. It should be viewed as a launching point into getting to know your team’s new players, or rivals. The fabricated anticipation for the draft, as a culmination of some sort, is performed by the media in a cheap hoax to maintain the public’s attention. Don’t fall for it. Instead, strengthen your handshake and get ready to meet your newest Dallas Cowboys!