In just over a week the future of many young football players will be changed. Every young man who plays high school football dreams of joining the professional ranks someday, but only a small number actually accomplish their dream.
The NFL Draft begins next Thursday. Throughout the history of the draft teams have gambled on their selections for immediate and future success. How important is it? It depends on who you ask. Teams which have the opportunity to draft early, and pick players such as Andrew Luck, or Robert Griffin III, will tell you that it changes their organization for many years to come. Teams that placed all their hopes in Ryan Leaf or Tim Couch, have an entirely different opinion.
The most important people in the small number of men who make the draft choice decisions are the scouts, or your head coach, if he happens to be Bill Walsh. The greatest player of all time, Jerry Rice, was not picked 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd. The San Francisco 49ers picked him 16th in the 1985 draft. Most teams thought he was too slow. Some gave him little credit for his achievements at Mississippi Valley State, because it wasn’t one of the “college football powerhouses”.
Ben Roethlisberger was selected 11th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was well-liked by most scouts, but he played for the University of Miami, in Ohio. Just as with Rice, he did not play in the SEC, or in the Big Ten, or the WAC, he played in the Mid-Atlantic Conference. All he’s done is win 2 out of 3 Superbowls.
This year’s NFL Draft is considered inferior to last year’s. There are no standouts at the ‘skill’ positions. Most scouts place the first of those players at number 14, Tavon Austin, a wide receiver from West Virginia. The first overall pick is expected to be Luke Joeckel, an offensive tackle from Texas A&M. Well known names such as Manti Te’o, the linebacker from Notre Dame, and Matt Barkley, quarterback out of USC, are not expected to be drafted until the 24th and 32nd picks respectively.
But, things change. Trades between teams will be made to move up in position and have the opportunity to select players to fill specific needs. For example, the New England Patriots are in need of receivers. They have the 29th pick overall, but could make trades to place them in a position to draft Tavon Austin.
Selecting players in the NFL Draft is much like gambling, sometimes you win, and all too often you lose. And the same can be said for “free agency”. All too often a player whose statistics were excellent with one team fails to fulfill the needs of another team with a different system and different coaches.
The only reason I’m looking forward to the draft is because it means we’re getting closer to the 2013 season. And I’m grateful my wife no longer complains about being a “football widow.”
Columnist-The Guardian Express