If I live to be 110, I’ll be really old. But even then, I will not understand why the NFL Draft is a thing. I won’t buy into the fake importance put on it by sports-talk radio and ESPN. I won’t understand why, right after the season ends the first week of February, they feel the need to start talking about the draft, which won’t happen until late April.
There are lots of things I don’t get about the NFL Draft. It’s not like the NBA, where one great player can change a team’s fortunes from one season to the next. There are 53 guys on an NFL roster. Drafting a future star might change the long-term trajectory of a team and maybe add a win or two to the next season’s total, but the reason that a team is drafting so high is that they had a horrible year last season and so they might go from three wins to five.
All I can guess is that somebody’s nephew, fresh out of college, ran a focus group one time the day after the Super Bowl without correcting for demographics. Everybody in the group looked like (the old) Kevin Smith living in his mom’s basement. As a control, they were asked “Do you give even a whit about who gets drafted three months from now?”
When they ran the numbers, they found that the eight-person group actually gave a total of nine whits about the draft and an entirely new cottage industry was born. This led to the age-old conundrum as to which came first — the blathering sports talk guy looking for anything about which to drone on for three hours or the gullible listener thinking that whatever the talker is droning on about must be important.
I love just about all sports but I am so glad that this nonsense is over.
Perhaps most annoying about the NFL Draft is that there are multiple people who get paid lots and lots of money to try to guess which players will be drafted by which teams. They start even before the playoffs are over (by then, the order of the teams that are drafting is set) and then they guess and guess and guess—and are always wrong, sometimes spectacularly so.
How would you like to earn a living just guessing at stuff and being labeled an “expert” if you manage to get even 20% of your picks right?
Let’s take a quick look at how some of the “experts” did. The king of them all is Mel Kiper, who basically invented the mock draft and will therefore serve hundreds of years in Purgatory (not the one in Colorado) after he shuffles off this mortal coil. Anyway, Mel’s the Man! He had all 32 first-round picks all scoped out. He got the first one right, then biffed on the second one. After that, he was done.
Once you get one wrong, it becomes a Markov chain, which is a mathematical process in which the probability of a series of events is predicted. It’s basically a series of educated guesses, with the success of each depending on how close the previous educated guess was.
As happens every year, Mel Kiper didn’t come close to getting even half of his picks correct. A guy he had projected to be picked fourth in the draft ended up not being picked by any of the 32 teams.
There was one good thing about the night. It’s really cool that Bijan Robinson was drafted with the eighth pick in the draft by the Atlanta Falcons. He becomes the highest-drafted football player from Tucson.
I first met Bijan when he was a freshman in high school. I had known his grandfather, Cleo, who is in the Pac-12 Hall of Fame as a ref but also reffed high-school basketball. Cleo and I get along really well because I never argue with refs. That’s weird, but true.
Cleo asked me to help his grandson with a little bit of math. But Bijan had shown up without a book or a writing utensil or something on which to write. I told him to go home and don’t come back unless he was prepared to work. I felt a little bit bad after that because he turned out to be one of the politest kids I’ve ever met. He was all “Yes, sir” and “No, sir” and smiles and positivity. I hope to see him if he visits Tucson this summer before heading off to Atlanta.
That’s a small problem. I haven’t watched an Atlanta Falcons game since they blew that 28-3 lead and choked away the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots.
It looks like I will have to start watching Falcons games, but if I live to be 110, I will never watch the NFL Draft. The Markov Chain probability on that is 1.0.
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