The NFL draft is officially upon us, meaning it’s time for all of us to pretend like we know what we’re talking about. Year after year in April so-called draft analysts bombard us with insight and knowledge on what were supposed to believe, is a precise science. Hundreds if not thousands of mock drafts and scouting reports get done by reporters from every source available. It’s bearable for the first twenty or so reports I see flash across my screen on ESPN, but after a while, it becomes almost nonsensical. I often wonder how so many of these draft analysts can maintain jobs after being wrong on so many occasions.
Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, and Mike Mayock are probably the three most recognizable draft analysts. These are the people who we are expected to place our full and total trust in during the draft process. In the infamous words of former Colts GM, Bill Tobin – “my neighbor has more credentials than Mel Kiper and he’s a postman!” This isn’t to discredit Mel Kiper or any of the other aforementioned draft analysts, but it merely points out a fact. These draft analysts aren’t as accredited as we’d like to believe.
I admire and value and work that someone like Mel Kiper or Todd McShay puts in though. The tedious painstaking hours spent watching film have to account for something. But time and time again pretentious notions of self-assurance are displayed through their words. Back in 2010, Mel Kiper stated that if Jimmy Clausen was not a successful quarterback in the NFL that he would be “done”. Seven years later Jimmy Clausen and I are in nearly the same position, at home, and not in the NFL.
In 2011 Tod McShay claimed that Blaine Gabbert was a better prospect than Cam Newton. We all know how that’s turned out. I could go on and on listing draft failures and terrible predictions but the point isn’t to shame draft analysts. The truth of the matter is that one knows what will happen. We can sit here and analyze metrics and statistics until our eyes turn red, but we just don’t know. But people still love to pretend like we do and spend countless hours talking about an imperfect science.
In 2013 31.4 percent of the NFL’s 2,026 total players, were undrafted. That’s a little over 1/4th of the NFL! But yet were lead to believe that NFL draft process is some precise science. All the drills, the numerous interviews, the intense workouts, ultimately don’t determine much. Sure it defines who has the best physical measurable but you just never know what someone is capable of until they receive an opportunity.
As a Patriots fan, I know this first hand. Tom Brady was a quarterback selected in the sixth round and has gone on to become arguably the greatest player in NFL history. Now, of course, there are a lot of variables that went into this such as team selection, the team roster, coaching and etc. But no one in the 2000 draft projected Tom Brady even having 1/10th of the success he’s achieved. We can measure variables, we can dissect film, but we can’t determine someone’s work ethic or their desire to be great.
So as April 27th, 2017 looms closer let’s all stop pretending like we know what we’re talking about because quite frankly – we don’t.