NFL Draft is overblown — but I'll still watch

By Steve Sell
April 28, 2016

To use a sports analogy, the NFL Draft reminds me of when Tiger Woods used to play golf and he would hit a drive well off the fairway.

Hundreds of crazed fans would sprint at breakneck speed and surround the ball, as though they were rushing to witness a car wreck.

The NFL Draft is just that. It’s basically much ado about nothing, but yet we can’t take our eyes off of it. What used to be a one-day event has become perhaps the second-most-watched NFL show other than the Super Bowl.

It’s such a spectacle now that the first round has its own day on ESPN. Coverage tonight begins at 7 p.m. and goes until the 31st and final pick is made. Normally there are 32, but the NFL stripped those sneaky New England Patriots of their pick due to “Deflategate.”

I have followed the NFL for more than 50 years (as I give away my age). The draft once was barely a ripple and for those who don’t know, it lasted a whopping 17 rounds basically in a smoke-filled room. There would be a smattering of stories with the picks in 7-point agate type on the sports pages the next day.

Now we have seven rounds spread over three days. Rounds 2 and 3 are on Friday, then it’s Saturday’s lightning round with teams having four more rounds to wade through. There will be numerous stories about which teams won and which teams lost. There will be countless opinions on the grades given to teams by a plethora of writers and analysts. Fans will moan and groan that their teams passed on a good player for a risk-reward player.

You can thank ESPN and the NFL Network for feeding our guilty pleasure. They begin draft talk not too long after the Super Bowl with numerous shows devoted to America’s No. 1 sport. On ESPN you have NFL Insiders, NFL Today, NFL Mock Draft, Mel Kiper, Mel Kiper and more Mel Kiper, who gets paid handsomely for his opinions even if they turn out to be busts. The NFL Network, as its name suggests, is 24-7 NFL coverage and features loudmouths Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders.

The first round goes on forever. Teams have 15 minutes to make their picks, but then you have the player going up to the podium and shaking the hand of the commissioner. You have clips being shown, and Kiper and fellow analyst Todd McShay bantering back and forth. And the captain of the ship is tired, old Chris Berman, whose ESPN star dimmed long ago as all he can do is make silly references to rock and roll songs and reach into his bag of worn-out cliches. 

On the NFL Network, Irvin and Sanders try to shout their opinions over each other and you need earplugs.

This isn’t going to be an earth-shattering draft, a game-changer. This is probably one of the most vanilla drafts in recent memory. There won’t be a future Hall of Famer coming out of this bunch. Heck, the teams with the first two picks already have traded down because there’s not that superstar or franchise player.

Get ready for a run of defensive backs and offensive linemen. The quarterback class is weak and there may be two running backs of value. There’s a group of receivers with similar skills, but none in the Jerry Rice mold.

For the most part, the players picked over the next three days will be players you’ve never heard of. But I’m sure since this is a bit of a guilty pleasure, I won’t be able to look away.