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Let Me Be Frank: NFL draft

Frank F. Pellegrino

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In honor of the 2012 NFL Draft that begins Thursday night, I wanted to take the time to explain why everything leading up to it is the absolute worst.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all professional sports and particularly enjoy the entertainment provided by the NFL. But, the pre-draft hype is completely overdone these days and seems to be getting an obnoxiously earlier start each year.

For example, I was perusing around some sports news websites a few days ago when I stumbled upon a 2013 NFL Mock Draft. That’s right, it was for 2013. If I didn’t make it clear in that first sentence, the 2012 NFL Draft hasn’t even started. Yet, this goon still felt compelled to already start analyzing next year’s draft.

The dumbest part about this concept — other than how much can change in a single season — is that we literally have no idea what underclassmen will even enter the draft. Out of the 10 ‘highest rated’ players by ESPN entering the 2012 draft, just two are actually seniors.

Which brings me to my next point, that the talent evaluation done by the ‘experts’ at ESPN or other sports media outlets is essentially done by an amateur, regardless of what payment they receive. If their evaluation of a player’s skills was really considered credible, don’t you think they would have a lot more rewarding — and lucrative — job working for a NFL team?

In fear of ruining my previous point when I referred to the top 10 highest rated players by ESPN, I want to establish that this lack of ability to evaluate talent just adds to the stupidity.

When trying to prematurely predict the 2013 draft, these ‘experts’ not only need to guess which underclassmen will declare for the draft, but they also need to (poorly) evaluate their talent a full year in a advance.

This concept is especially sad when you consider how little success they have accurately predicting results even just a week beforehand. Outside of the top five picks every year, there is usually so much variance in who the ‘experts’ project will be drafted, it’s hard to decide who’s opinion to even trust.

Let’s look at the poster-boy of NFL draft analysts, Mel Kiper, who, if nothing else, is at least the most visible with ESPN. In 2011, Kiper did get those easy top five picks correct, but then failed to predict more than four of the final 27 first round selections.

For those who struggle with statistics, that’s really bad.

The worst part about Kiper specifically, is that he uses about a gallon of gel in his hair for every television appearance and brings this insanely arrogant swagger to the table.

He acts like you’re an idiot if you disagree with him, yet continues to swing and miss by wide margins.

I think the biggest reason why NFL Draft experts like Kiper struggle so much when making predictions is that they don’t focus enough on the right attributes of players.

When doing their analysis, too much emphasis is placed on things like how high guys can jump and how fast they can run. In  my opinion, they should instead be focusing on intangible things like how smart of a football player they are or how large their will to win is.

The issue with that, however, is that there really is no exact science for trying to evaluate skills that can’t be measured.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying I think I would be able to do any better of a job than these industry experts. But since nobody does a good job — because it’s nearly impossible to do so — maybe it’s about time to start cutting back some of this pre-draft hype.

If we keep going in the direction we are going, I’m fearful that around this time next year I might stumble upon a 2030 NFL mock Draft. Maybe it will predictions of when the players will be born, where they will go to college and how those skills will translate to the NFL.

Actually, now that I think about it, that doesn’t sound much less reasonable than what is already taking place.

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The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.
Let Me Be Frank: NFL draft