Can’t get enough football
It’s Christmas in April. Or is it May?
It doesn’t really matter. For the next three days it’s like traveling back in time to one of those early-morning wake-up calls from my brother or sister that Santa had come to our house.
Yes, I’m one of those crazy adults that gets as giddy over the NFL Draft as a child does over the big man’s December visits.
Wednesday night is like Christmas Eve. The anticipation of what the Patriots will do is overwhelming. How will New Hampshire’s Chip Kelly shut up his critics in Philadelphia and nationwide, still confused by most of his offseason roster moves?
Most people sit through Thursday night and that’s enough for them – Round 1 of the draft is all that matters. Sorry, you’re wrong.
When you get past all the hype of the big names that are taken on Day 1, there is still so much more talent to go around.
It’s easy for any NFL executive to see the star quality in a first rounder. It’s what these same execs are able to see from Rounds 2-7 that can make or break a team for years to come.
It’s easier for me to root for Mr. Irrelevant (the very last pick) than it is care about the No. 1 overall selection. Especially if it’s Florida State headliner Jameis Winston.
The Patriots have had that last selection twice (1994, 2005). Once worked out wonderfully, while the most recent choice is exactly why the title was given.
In 1994, they took University of Kentucky linebacker Marty Moore. In 2005, it was William Penn University tight end Andy Stokes.
Moore, who played eight seasons in the NFL between the Patriots (who drafted him in the seventh round with the 222nd pick) and Cleveland Browns, holds the distinction of being the first Mr. Irrelevant ever to play in a Super Bowl (Super Bowl XXXI: Green Bay 35, New England 21).
Stokes, never played a down in an official NFL game with the Patriots (who drafted him in the seventh round with the 255th pick), Arizona Cardinals or Seattle Seahawks. He was cut by the Patriots during training camp of 2005, then failed to get off the Cardinals’ (2006) and Seahawks’ (2007) practice squads the next two years.
But Mr. Irrelevant isn’t considered a bust when he fails. The true busts come from the first rounders everyone expects great things from.
You remember – Tony Mandarich (No. 1 pick in 1989), Todd Marinovich (No. 24, 1991), Heath Shuler (No. 3, 1994), Ki-Jana Carter (No. 1, 1995), Lawrence Phillips (No. 6, 1996), Ryan Leaf (No. 2, 1998), Tim Couch (No. 1, 1999), Courtney Brown (No. 1, 2000) and JaMarcus Russell (No. 1, 2007) – don’t you? There were plenty before that crop of wasted or overrated talent and there will be plenty more for years to come.
Somewhere between this year’s first pick – likely Winston to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – and the last pick, which currently belongs to the Cardinals (255th pick overall), there will be a number of good and bad surprises.
It’s not just the anticipation of who is going where, but also the chance to look back five years later to see what players franchises hit on or how wildly of a miss certain guys were.
For some the draft is a bore – nothing but hours of TV filler. For others, more like me, its 255 individually gift-wrapped presents under the tree waiting to be unveiled to the delight or disapproval of an entire fanbase.
Hopefully Kelly’s choices are received well in Philly. We all know how The City of Brotherly Love reacts when Santa doesn’t come through with a winning team.
George Scione can be reached at 594-6520, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Telegraph_BigG.