I have an absolute love/hate relationship with the NFL. I love the Steelers but really hate the game anymore. I hate that the games seem so predictable, I hate watching one team go to the championship every year, and most of all – I hate the draft. A million analysts telling you why the pick either sucks or is the savior of your team.
Look, the NFL is a tough league and coming out of college – unless you are literally a once in a lifetime talent with extreme luck, no one can predict how good you will be. No one can say you are going to be the savior of any team. Scouts go through a lot of work trying to find the best fit for a team. Even if the skill set seems off to analysts they know their team’s needs and chemistry better than anyone else. That isn’t to say that you wouldn’t go for the once in a lifetime talent if it was there, but how many times are they available?
Look at every NFL team. The goal is to win and no one does that as well as Tom Brady. He isn’t even a once in a lifetime talent. He has a decent arm but he has an intense drive and is a great leader. The team he is on has fantastic coaches who sacrifice personal gain for the ultimate victory. Then look at someone like Cam Newton. He is literally a once in a lifetime talent. He has a great arm, he has amazing mobility, he is built like a linebacker, speed like a running back and by all accounts a complete turd. He says and does so many stupid things that it doesn’t matter.
Is there any generational talents currently in the NFL? The argument could be made that Rob Gronkowski could be the greatest TE ever and he possess some of the best skill sets of all time for the position but outside of him it would be a tough call on anyone else. So why is it that the NFL sells us the idea that all of these players – twenty and twenty one year olds for the most part, are going to be the next great player, a once in a lifetime talent, a can’t miss… because it sells.
They are selling you on the idea that the NFL is full of amazing players because the reality is that it isn’t. Nearly every single player is replaceable at some level. Some are great and some stink but 95% of the players in the NFL fall within the bell curve of talent. They aren’t going to make or break a team, in fact of the talents in the draft, it is likely that only 6 will have any impact on their team. The rest will be role players and generic starters. Look at the Pro Bowl – you have 44 players on each team, these are the best players in the league and if you consider that there are 1696 players and only 5% are the best in the league you get 85 players which is right in line (as long as we count special teams).
So, the NFL draft sucks, and it sucks hard because it puts a lot of pressure on a lot of people who will end up being just serviceable enough to replace the older less serviceable players but not a whole lot more. Of course you have outliers and you have some players who are great for one year and fizzle out the next or get injured but the number of once in a lifetime talents are simply not there. So please, stop tuning in to the spectacle and take some pressure off these poor kids.