I used to be like many of you. Once upon a time, I was in love with the NFL Draft. Springtime would come around and my heart would be aflutter with every rumor, mock draft and combine measurement. I channeled my inner Mel Kiper Jr., studying as much as I could about an obscure left tackle from Big State University. Sure, he only made 10 starts over his four-year career but look at those pancake blocks. He’ll be a steal for someone in the late rounds.
I loved the draft because I loved the way it made me feel: smart, informed, dedicated, contented. Dopamine is released when we do things that feel good to us. We feel giddy, energetic, and euphoric, even leading to decreased appetite and insomnia. That’s why we sometimes experience that “can’t eat, can’t sleep feeling.”
The NFL Draft did that to me. As a child, sleeping the night before Christmas was difficult. As an adult, sleeping the night before the draft was challenging. Visions of quarterbacks, running backs, cornerbacks and wide receivers danced in my head. I couldn’t wait to watch it all. What could be better?
Well, how about experiencing the draft at an NFL team facility? Giddy up! As a cub reporter, I attended the Cincinnati Bengals draft. This was going to be awesome. Imagine seeing the entire process unfolding right before my eyes. I would finally get to understand NFL talent evaluation. How exciting. This is going to be a wonderful day.
This is where expectations and reality collide, and you’re left disappointed and disillusioned. My big day turned out to be me sitting with a bunch of other reporters watching the NFL Draft on TV: Just like it would be if I was at home. Wait a minute. I drove 90 miles for this? Shouldn’t it be something more? Shouldn’t we be at least inside the war room to see and hear the coaches and management discuss who would be their first-round pick?
I was so naïve. Then, the realization hit me like a bucket of cold water.
The NFL Draft was a waste of a perfectly good weekend. Now, it’s a waste of a perfectly good Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Go outside, man! Fire up the grill. Take a hike. Visit the beach. Do anything except watch the NFL Draft.
If you absolutely, positively need to follow it, use Twitter, Why would anyone dedicate that much time to watching this football beauty pageant? At least in the Miss America contest, someone is actually crowned a winner at the end of the night. With the NFL, you’re not going to know who the actual winners for at least two years.
For anyone to invest this amount of time, there’s got to be an immediate payoff. When I went to Cincinnati, I (admittedly foolishly) thought I would gain a better understanding. Not only did I come away with no additional knowledge, I didn’t even get any Montgomery Inn ribs. It was a complete letdown.
I fell out of love because the NFL Draft is misleading. No one ever tells you that it’s all a big gamble. General managers, coaches, scouts are guessing. They’re making educated guesses, but there seems to be very little science about this process. The success of first-round draft picks is essentially a coin flip. In subsequent rounds, it gets progressively worse. That’s the fine print that you won’t hear much on ESPN or the NFL Network. They seem to want you to believe that most of these players will be impactful when the exact opposite is more likely.
I fell out of love with the draft because of the crappy analysis. It’s an echo chamber of hot takes with seemingly no real insight. All the players get locked into a narrative that often doesn’t give you a complete picture. I fell out of love with the draft because teams – like people – sometime choose emotionally instead of logically.
Let’s take look at this year’s draft. It’s quarterback-heavy with the distinct possibility that six may be selected in the first round. It’s QB-driven league and teams are so desperate that they are maneuvering to draft one. When you’re starving, you should never go shopping, Desperation leads to poor choices. Statistically, there is a better chance that most of these QBs will fail. Why would you give away assets for an unknown? Better to find value and not reach for a QB.
Still, few teams pay heed to that advice.
I fell out of love with the draft because I don’t know what I’m watching or what to believe.
Sam Darnold: Wasn’t he supposed to be the consensus No. 1 draft choice for 2018? No, forget what was written last year. Look at all those turnovers. Look at how disappointing the Trojans were. No way this did should be taken first overall by the Cleveland Browns. Of course, his team success and turnovers might have a perfectly reasonable explanation that has nothing to do with how good Darnold actually is.
Josh Rosen: Wasn’t he supposed to be the next Aaron Rodgers? No, forget what was written last year. He’s from a rich family! He’s an independent thinker. His own college coach doesn’t sound too crazy about him. Of course, Rosen’s refreshing personality might have nothing to do with how good he actually is.
Lamar Jackson: Wasn’t he supposed to be the ultimate dual-threat weapon? No, forget what was written last year. Hell, one Hall of Fame general manager thinks Jackson should be a wide receiver. Of course, Jackson’s skill might just need a little refining and his wiry body type might have nothing to do with how good he actually is.
All this “analysis” gives me a headache. Love isn’t supposed to feel this way. When someone repeatedly disappoints you, you ignore them. Cut off all communications. I’ve been ghosting the NFL Draft for over a decade. I’m a lot happier.