The National Football League certainly knows how to create a splash. The Super Bowl has been in the record books for months, and many more will pass until even preseason games begin. Yet, every April, the NFL breaks the drought and interjects with a nearly mandated viewing required of all football fans, that being the prime time showcase of it’s drafting process. The first three rounds, which occurred last Thursday and Friday night, are quite the event. Red carpets and flamboyant suits only contribute to the glamour of the successive evenings, as a very select few receive the highest validation of their childhood dreams, that of becoming professional football players.
Compared to last year’s extravaganza, this year’s first round was inordinately mundane. For certain players to compile breathtaking highlight reels, and establish their name in football legacy, they rely on their offensive and defensive lines. And in this year’s first round, those lines were replenished. The first seven picks were such players, as were 18 of the total 32 first-round picks, an astonishing 56 percent. It was the first draft since 1963 that no running backs were taken in the first round. Making things even odder was the Buffalo Bill’s sixteenth overall selection, E.J. Manuel of Florida State. He was the first and only quarterback taken in the round, and not exactly the one analysts and scouts had predicted. Similar to March Madness, the science behind predicting NFL draftees, well, isn’t exactly much science at all.
Following the primetime rounds, the remainder occurs over the course of the next day, Saturday afternoon. The selections come much quicker, and even diehard fans become unfamiliar with the names running across the screen. The first round was a nearly four hour event, while the final four rounds occurred over about five hours. Trading is ubiquitous in all rounds, and results in some teams having less, or more, picks than others. Teams also will deal such picks to maneuver throughout the rounds themselves, allowing other teams to draft prospects that would near certainly be unavailable, had they not done so. Last year’s ascend to the overall second pick, the acquisition of Robert Griffin III, all but assured the Washington Redskins wouldn’t have a first round pick this year, and next. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Minnesota Vikings had three first round selections. Innately possessing two entering the draft, they dealt their second, third, fourth, and seventh picks to the Patriots, for their first round, 29th overall pick.
The draft has become a greatly anticipated event, and provided excellent entertainment for several days. However, immediate contributions from draftees of any round are few and far between, and collegiate football success in no way translates to professional football success. The odds were against every draftee of ever becoming a professional player, and now that they have, they now submit to new odds, that of remaining on a pro roster and contributing. Their road to greatness is hardly over.