From its humble beginnings in a New York City hotel conference room in 1980 to the now three-day spectacle held in Radio City Music Hall, the NFL draft has elevated to the status of an ultimate live in prime-time reality show as analysts, fans and players wait in desperate anticipation to hear the next name to begin a professional playing career. And although the draft may very well determine the fate of each team’s near future and provide a true look into the amount of effort and emotion that goes into this day, football fans still don’t think the draft is worth several hours of their weekend.
Here are five reasons why I think the 2013 NFL draft is worth spending the weekend glued to the couch or bar stool.
Unpredictability: The first five picks in the 2012 NFL draft were all but locked up with the Indianapolis Colts announcing their No. 1 overall pick of Andrew Luck two days before the draft was set to begin. This year couldn’t be any more different.
The Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock and only they know (maybe) whose name will be called first in New York Thursday night. Many people believe it will be Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel to take the stage, but that’s not certain with the possibility of Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher stealing the top spot.
After that, it’s a complete tossup with teams like Jacksonville and Oakland who have several needs and no clear cut favorite to fill them. Trades will definitely play a part in the first round as well with several teams looking to move positions in the draft.
Depth: Although this year’s draft class doesn’t hold any surefire superstars, it does feature one of the deepest classes in recent memory. Almost every position other than quarterback seems to have at least five or more players who have the potential to be a solid starter in the league.
This depth is highlighted by the number of high-quality offensive linemen entering the 2013 draft. While drafting a player to fill space in the trenches isn’t the most exciting pick compared to picking a skill player with sub-4.5 speed or a quarterback that can throw a country mile, having an anchor on the line can open up a running game or a passing attack you never thought your team had.
Even the running back position has a tremendous amount of depth. Sure, there isn’t anyone like Trent Richardson or Doug Martin to be picked early, but guys like Alabama’s Eddie Lacy, Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore, all had outstanding college careers.
Quarterbacks: There will always be teams in need of a new quarterback, but this year’s class seemingly offers no day one starters. That won’t stop teams from reaching for a quarterback much earlier than the player’s skill level merits. Will Philadelphia go for a guy like Geno Smith with the No. 4 pick or will Buffalo reach for Ryan Nassib with the No. 8 pick?
The Green Room: Ah, the green room, where so many hopes and dreams of being drafted in the top ten come crashing down on national television. It’s always entertaining to watch guys sweat in the green room as more and more picks go by without their name being called. Think back to guys like Brady Quinn or Aaron Rodgers who were left to sit in the green room for more than 20 selections before they were finally spared from the agony.
More players than ever are declining invitations to stay in the green room, but 23 athletes are still brave enough to sit in on the draft. That will leave plenty of opportunities for someone in the green room to slip further down the board than expected. My money’s on Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel to sweat it out the longest in the green room. He’ll be lucky to be drafted in the second round.
Intriguing story lines: The 2013 draft class provides several enticing storylines but none more fascinating than that of Manti Te’o. On Thursday, we will finally find out how the whole fake girlfriend fiasco will affect his draft stock and how the ruthless fans that attend the draft will welcome the Golden Domer to the NFL.
Marcus Lattimore is another interesting story to watch as the draft unfolds. Before Lattimore’s gruesome leg injury last season, the South Carolina product was a first round lock and probably would have been a top ten pick. Now coming off of surgery, one team will get the ultimate bargain in the third or fourth round if Lattimore is able to come back and play like he did for the Gamecocks.
Finally, several Wisconsin alumni are looking to enter the NFL during the weekend with Ball and center Travis Frederick likely to be the first two Badgers taken. Neither are likely to be taken in the first round, but both will be taken sometime on Friday in the second or third round.