It’s never been the most scintillating form of entertainment. Despite all the talk and posturing and prognosticating that takes place in the months leading up to it, the NFL draft, the actual event itself, never quite lives up to its build-up.
Year in and year out, the pattern rarely changes. Fans, from cursory to creepy, get caught up in the fanfare to some degree. They hear the chit-chat about their teams’ needs, their teams’ drafting tendencies and their teams’ likely choices, all the while becoming that much more curious.
The anticipation mounts, knowingly or not – to some level, at least. Mock drafts get perused, read and re-read. Then the first round comes each April, and … it leaves you a little flat. If you happened to follow the proceedings at all, they just don’t seem to fulfill the appetite – even if your team picked the guy you wanted it to pick.
It’s like expecting a steak with all the trimmings and what you get is a plain hamburger, sans bun.
Thursday night’s initial foray into the NFL’s 2013 edition of its annual pick-and-choose fest may have taken “empty feeling” to a new level, though. Granted, we weren’t talking about a bevy of lights-out talent being on the board to begin with, nor was there any doubt this draft would start off with the ho-hum selection of an offensive lineman. But when five of the next 10 were the same, you kind of got the drift that headline-grabbers and game-changers were not going to be the order of the day.
Guys who weren’t drafted – Geno Smith and Manti Te’o, for starters – were bigger “news” than those who were. Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson, all offensive tackles, set the stage for safe choices on this night, going to Kansas City, Jacksonville and Philadelphia with the first, second and fourth picks, respectively.
Miami possibly threw a wrench into the mix by leapfrogging the Eagles via trade to get defensive end/outside linebacker Dion Jordan, who played for new Birds coach Chip Kelly at Oregon, at No. 3. But consensus word in Philly prior to the draft was that Johnson was the guy Kelly and GM Howie Roseman wanted anyway and that’s who they’d pick … regardless of who was left on the board.
Sharrif Floyd, the defensive tackle out of Florida, saw his stock drop like a rock, as pre-draft hype of him being a top-5 pick turned into a cold-slap reality of going No. 23 to Minnesota. You’d have to figure the Vikings got some value there. Other teams did, too.
Buffalo actually will take some heat for being the only team to take a quarterback in the first round and making that selection EJ Manuel, not Smith or Ryan Nassib, who played for new Bills coach Doug Marrone at Syracuse. The feeling here is, it made the right call out of the options available at the position. Manuel was the biggest, strongest signal-caller in college football and while his career at Florida State wasn’t all highlights, it was pretty good and he has some pedigree, having been the top-rated recruit in the country when he headed to Tallahassee, Fla.
The Bills actually tag-teamed with St. Louis to create the most excitement in the first round, surrendering the No. 8 slot – which the Rams used to take pint-sized West Virginia wideout Tavon Austin. Considered a reach, he may turn out not to be.
No, really, when push came to shove on this night, it was all about the big boys. Eighteen of the first 32 picks of the draft were lineman, half of them offensive. Chicago deemed OT Kyle Long worthy of the No. 20 selection off five starts for the youngster at Oregon … and a gene pool that includes Hall of Famer Howie Long for a father.
That’s somewhat interesting, and maybe even mildly amusing – but hardly filling for a pro football fan.
Yeah, this first round may have had a lot of beef, but it lacked any bite.
On the bright side, plenty of leftovers remain for the weekend, with the second round set to commence on Friday.