NFL draft — sports' most hyped event

By Steve Sell
April 28, 2015

What is the nation’s fascination with the NFL draft?

The most overhyped event in professional sports finally — and mercifully — takes place starting on Thursday from Chicago.

With ESPN calling the shots, the first round will consume all of Thursday’s activity. Friday is devoted to the second and third rounds, with the remainder of the no-name selections taking place on Saturday.

ESPN and the NFL Network have devoted countless hours of programming to dissect every possible player who could be chosen. Those in the print media have released their ever-changing mock drafts. I think The Kansas City Star is on version 7.0 or something like that.

We’ll see more than we’d like of supposed draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. and his hair, and now he’s augmented by his Mini Me, Todd McShay. Of course pulling it all together is old, tired Chris Berman and his endless string of cliches and references to 1970s music. C’mon Chris, time to get a new schtick.

On the NFL Network, you have a cascade of former head coaches and players opining. Sometimes the disagreements get heated — for what? A lot of these first-rounders wind up riding the bench because they’re still boys going up against men. They’re physically and mentally overmatched. Case in point — Kansas City’s Eric Fisher, who now has two years under his belt after being the NFL’s overall No. 1 pick in 2013. He’s on his way to a pedestrian career at best.

Of course leading up to the draft, you have the NFL combine, which is a meat market. Teams prod and poke and ogle at the players, with all of it documented on the NFL Network.

The experts then get into a tizz that a wide receiver prospect runs a 4.4 instead of a 4.3, or that you can’t take a prospect because he’s 6-1 instead of 6-2. 

Yet, invariably, I find myself watching a lot of this fluff because, well, it’s my job to stay informed on what’s going on in the sports world. For me, it’s actually like coming on the scene of a big crowd around a car wreck.

I have to admit I do like the speculation surrounding the first round, which is about the only one I watch. You have about 50 legitimate players for 32 openings and you never know what teams are going to trade out of their spot to acquire more picks for on down the road. You’d be surprised how many players populate NFL rosters who were picked in the final two or three rounds, or not picked at all.

I also like watching for those prospects expected to go high, but then drop like a rock for one reason or another and their painful demise is chronicled until he’s picked. A potential fall-off player to watch this year is Shane Ray of Missouri, at one time expected to go in the Top 5, but reports of his affinity for smokin’ a little weed is causing teams to take a second look. A story in today’s Kansas City Star said he was pulled over Monday and issued a citation for possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana. Of course if he went to school in Colorado, all would be forgiven.

I feel like with all the time I’ve wasted watching these pre-draft shows, I know all the top stars’ likes and dislikes, right down to whether or not they wear boxers or briefs. To be honest, the whole thing is pretty silly, yet I’m part of said silliness.

There doesn’t appear to be any intrigue as far as the first overall pick as the Tampa Bay Bucs apparently have settled on Florida State bad boy quarterback Jameis Winston, who wants to get out of school before he gets into any more trouble. The Bucs might be wise to hire a bodyguard to follow him wherever he goes, especially on Thursday.

The rest of the draft concerns for me involve which players are the Kansas City Chiefs going to pick. The Chiefs’ roster is like Swiss Cheese, full of holes. The offensive line is a train wreck and the linebacking corps and secondary need an infusion of talent. The problems at wide receiver have been somewhat calmed by the addition of Jeremy Maclin and the subtraction of Dwayne Bowe, who Chiefs fans won’t have to kick around anymore. Now they have to move on to a new scapegoat who is the whipping post of everything that goes wrong with the team.

I’ll tune in periodically on Thursday, but you can forget Friday or Saturday. Then come the draft grades, with some services giving a player an “A,” then another turns around and says the same pick is a “C.”

Quick, name the Chiefs’ first pick last year?

How quickly we forget.

Answer — Dee Ford. Remember him?

I rest my case.