Holy hell it’s Draft Week! In second half of this decade, The NFL Player Selection Meeting has become the highlight of April for every football-loving fanatic. I started getting heavy into and watching almost all the draft in 2003, which was a good year overall and an insane first round for the Ravens (side note: isn’t it crazy that Kyle Boller and Byron Leftwich are essentially the same age?) Since then, I have spent the fourth Saturday in April in an frenzy of film, food, friends, and freaking Mel Kiper, Jr.
To get you as fired up as I am, here are 10 things to get excited about.
10. The Best of Both Worlds – The draft is so easy to get behind because whether you are into NCAA or NFL football, it’s an intriguing day. I’m convinced that if I grew up near an SEC school, I would think College Football was the greatest invention since they combined hydrogen and oxygen. However, I live in Baltimore and didn’t go to Maryland, so I’m pretty interested in it from the pro development perspective. In other words, it’s a great day for pro fans to pretend they’ve seen 30% of these guys play, and it’s a great day for college fans to pretend they know the team needs of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Everyone’s a winner.
9. J-E-T-S FAIL, FAIL, FAIL! – There are so many great things about this video I don’t even know where to start. ESPN should run this montage on every Jets pick, not just the first one. My personal favorite part is the dramatic pause from Rozelle/Tagliabue after the position, followed by the screams of agony. “Fullback…(Nooooo!)…” Also that guy in the maroon and gold outfit they interview after the Ken O’Brien pick is pretty fantastic all around. Sadly, with the Jets new regime, they might be competent at the draft. Let’s hope they always show this anyway.
8. Brevity – Smart move moving the 3rd and 4th rounds to day 2. Even smarter move shortening the clock on the first two rounds this year. I mean, these teams have 364 days to prepare for this. Now, Day 1 is so short that you actually have to pay attention the whole time. Before, if you had any hopes of making it deep into Day 2, you had to sort of pace yourself. Screw the Vikings or Raiders or whoever if they can’t get a round 2 pick together in seven minutes!
7. The Green Room – Watching Brady Quinn sweat out the first round in the green room a couple years ago told me all I need to know about how good he was going to be. When the Browns passed him with their first pick, I swear if you look at the tape he mouths something like “they’ll never win without me.” Of course, they selected him with their second pick, so joke’s on you buddy. But you were, in fact right about them never winning. While the attire in the NFL draft green room is not quite as entertaining as the NBA’s, there is still some great menswear on display.
6. Absurd College Football Highlights – Every year there seems to be one video that is just stupifying in how athletic somebody is. My favorite of all time has to be the Matt Jones video. The clip proves two things 1) NFL defenses are so fast that nobody, not even Matt Jones runs the option like this in the pros 2) Cocaine is a hell of a drug. A subcateory to this could also be “Absurd stories from the combine/pro day” (my personal favorite being Deion Sanders’ 4.1 40 in sweatpants, into the wind. Also you can go ahead and include weird stunts like prospects jumping out of pools.
5. The Post-Pick Interview – This can also tell you a lot about a player. It’s a shame their psychoses are usually revealed after the pick is made. If you look back at Cedric Benson’s bizarre interview after being taken in 2005, you will certainly say to yourself “this man will one day be arrested for boating while intoxicated.” The writing was on the wall. Another 2005 gem was Pacman Jones’ selection by the Titans. I don’t know where he was, but it was via satellite, there were lots of people around him, he had on shades and was holding a goblet. Only at the draft.
4. Arguing – Debating the value of picks on draft day is great because 1) Everyone is in such a food coma that nobody will remember your assertions about Matt Stafford and 2) It’s the one day of the year when everyone is right, because as William Goldman once said, “Nobody knows anything.” Sure, he was talking about the movie business, but it still applies. Don’t question me!
3. Food! – I usually eat really healthy in April, just to compensate for what goes on in the draft. Junior year of college, my roommate Jimmy and I basically built a wall around ourselves made of Doritos and chili dip and ate our way out. This year, I’m hosting Jimmy and some other associates and going for The Corner Stable’s ribs. I have traveled far and wide, and every city thinks they have some place that has “the best ribs ever, man!” Oh, how wrong they are. The last time we ate there I let my fiancee know that if I ever get a terminal illness or get put on Death Row, I want to eat Corner Stable ribs every day until the end. There’s just nothing close.
2. Mel – The man, the myth, the hair. Mel Kiper Jr. is certainly not the original draftnik, but he is definitely our icon. In the last two years, to keep Mel on his toes, ESPN has given him a foil in Todd McShay. Those battles are crazy, but Mel sounds like he is winning to me simply because if he says a player’s name, he HAS to give the school and position. I often wonder if he does this in life. Would he refer to me as “Dave Gilmore, holder out of Xavier University”? I hope so. And yes, the only thing I’m qualified to do for an NFL team is hold kicks. Anyway, people often point to how inaccurate Mel’s mocks have been in the past few years, but that’s not really the point of having a full-time draft analyst. More than often, Mel’s Big Board, which basically tells you who the best players are, is a better indicator of talent. Consequently, Jimmy and I have often talked about how Kipe has so much influence that he ends up being right sometimes because he sort of Svengalis teams into taking players. Frankly, I could write a whole book on Mel, and I hope one day, he will let me.
1. The Wizard of Oz – Check out this NYT article from Sunday. Sadly, it’s only 2 pages, but I would read it if it were 11. The Ravens are better at drafting players that actually have NFL value than all 31 teams, and THAT IS A SCIENTIFIC FACT!
Okay, if you’re still not pumped up for this Saturday, I will be doing a special podcast this week with Phil Cunningham doing our final round one. Mock Draft.