Importance of the NFL draft

by Matthew McGouran | Staff Writer

When people think of the NFL draft, they think of their favorite teams drafting prospects, with the potential to make or break their future in  the Radio City Music Hall in New York , on an April night. But instead, this year’s draft was moved back to May 8,9 and 10 instead of last year’s April 25, 26 and 27, due to a scheduling conflict.

With two extra weeks to analyze everything, there is more time for teams to over-analyze players like Teddy Bridgewater, who had a great college career but is being torn apart after the NFL combine and his pro day, and who is now projected to be a late first round or early second round pick. And Tom Savage, who was not proven during his college career but might be drafted before or a little bit after Bridgewater, because he has a good throwing arm and has good size for a quarterback. During the two week span between when the draft should have been held and when it was actually held, random players like Joel Bitonio have risen from mid to late round projections, to making it to the late first round in many mock drafts.

One of the most underrated parts of the draft is the late round prospects who slip through the cracks and end up becoming some of the best players in the league. One of the best examples

Each year the NFL draft is held in the Radio City Music Hall in downtown New York City.
Each year the NFL draft is held in the Radio City Music Hall in downtown New York City.

of this is New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who went in the sixth round as the seventh quarterback selected, and is now considered one of the best in league history. Some recent late round selections who have turned out to be very good players include Richard Sherman, who was selected in the fifth round in 2011, Antonio Brown, who was selected in the sixth round in 2010 and Pierre Garçon, who was selected in the sixth round in 2008. Another part of the draft that often goes unnoticed is teams signing undrafted free agents after the draft ends. With all-pro players like Arian Foster, Victor Cruz and Wes Welker all going undrafted, it shows that even when the draft ends, there’s still a large amount of impact players left for teams to add.

Something that can happen that could possibly set a team back for years is drafting a bust with their first round pick. A bust is a player who is drafted very early in the draft and doesn’t live up to their high expectations. One colossal bust was JaMarcus Russell, who was drafted number one overall by the Oakland Raiders in 2007. Russell was selected over super star wide receiver Calvin Johnson, which set the team back because they still have a major need at both wide receiver and quarterback. Other busts include Blaine Gabbert of the Jaguars in 2011, Ryan Leaf of the Chargers back in 1998, and Matt Leinart of the Cardinals in 2006. These players show that nothing in the NFL draft is guaranteed, no matter how much of a sure thing analysts claim they were.

This years draft could be described as unconventional and unpredictable due to the large amount of stud wide receivers and quarterbacks available to all the teams. The crop of players for this draft includes Texas A&M stars Johnny Manziel, Jake Matthews and Mike Evans and college stars like Jadeveon Clowney, Sammy Watkins and Eric Ebron. Most of the draft experts believe that this years draft has a chance to be on of the best in years, especially at the wide receiver position with as many as six projected to go in the first round. One interesting part of this years draft is the uncertainty at quarterback. With players like Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and Derek Carr, who wrapped up good college careers but all have had questions rise about them during the draft process. Other quarterbacks like Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger have fallen during the draft process because of major knee injuries.

The NFL draft has expanded from something that was held in a small hotel in New York City to a huge event that is now held in Radio City Music Hall and is nationally televised and is spread over 3 days, which shows the growth of the sport and how people take serious interest in its future. The first round of the NFL draft will be held at 7:00 pm central time on May 8 and will be shown on ESPN and NFL Network.


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