At the risk of biting one of the hands that feeds me as an NFL writer, I can’t help but admit that Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is bang-on in regard to his view of the NFL draft.
Here’s what Kelly told Peter King of the MMQB Saturday:
What’s the worst thing about the league? I said the draft. I mean, the hype that goes into the draft is insane. Totally insane. The biggest thing for me is that everybody thinks whoever you drafted or whoever you signed is now gonna be a savior. They come in just like me and you come in as freshmen in high school or freshmen in college, or your first year on the job at Sports Illustrated—you’re not telling people what to do, you’re just trying to figure out what room to go to.
I think a lot of times the hype turns into really, really hard times for the individual who got picked, because there’s so many expectations of everyone building them up to be Superman because they had three months to write about them and talk about them. Then when they get picked, they’re a very, very good prospect, but there’s a learning curve when you go from any job out of college into a company. If you take a job at Wells Fargo when you get out of college, your first day of the job they don’t say, ‘He’s our first-round draft pick, he’s the savior to the company!’
As Kelly has noted before, half of the players picked in the first round of the draft don’t pan out. The whole thing is a crapshoot. The hype is through the roof, yet mock drafts are never indicative of the results, while the results are never indicative of what’s to come in the upcoming season, and beyond. It’s just a carousel of bad predictions, bad choices and bad analysis, but for whatever reason, most football fans can’t get enough of it.
I guess that’s because it’s the ultimate reality show, and because it gives the media a chance to sell hope to fans of all 32 teams during what would otherwise be a low point on the annual NFL calendar.
Kelly elaborated on his criticism during a Monday press conference, per Pro Football Talk:
I think the draft is integral obviously with putting together your team but literally from the day the Super Bowl ends until the draft, at the ending of May, or the beginning of June or maybe push it to July at some point in time; that’s all everybody talks about. I felt the same way in college. You devote everything to the signing day. Well, how many of those guys on the signing day are actually going to contribute? You may have one or two of your rookies that have an impact on your team but the rest of them it’s a part of having them develop…
The fact that people would watch the Combine; there’s times at the Combine where I fall asleep,” Kelly added. “So I don’t know why people watch it on television. They are running 40‑yard dashes.
That’s the thing about the draft. All of this attention is paid to every round, every pick, well in advance, and yet there’s almost no return on that investment of time and energy.
Most of us are smart enough to know that, but we still can’t resist the chatter, the mock drafts and the rumors. And that’s sort of a microcosm for sports fandom in general, isn’t it? Fans get nothing tangible out of their commitment, but too few of us have the ability to separate hobbies from obsessions.