Draft’s over-rated

The NFL draft is a big deal in the US.

People get decked out in face paint and team jerseys and attend the draft in New York, others get very emotional with each pick and the rest look upon the happening as an unofficial national holiday.

NFL fans in Cayman can be seen glued to their TV seats for hours with draft boards in hand along with heavy hopes and dreams of what the next NFL season has in store for their team.

Yet the overwhelming feeling from this year’s edition – like in years past – is the whole event is over-rated and over-exposed.

For a whole weekend everyone is caught up in the future and what someone might or might not do and what could pan out.

Real sporting events, like the NBA and NHL playoffs, have to fight for publicity with the draft. The amount of coverage the draft gets – which is spread over several days – is suffocating and unreal.

Case in point: if you were counting on sports news on ESPN over the weekend you were sunk. The draft was covered on the network the whole of Saturday and Sunday.

Some three to four hours were spent ahead of the draft on Saturday talking about the strengths and weaknesses of the draft field, how it compares to drafts in previous years and so on.

Now mind you all of that banter has merit. It is necessary to look backwards before going forwards in the NFL and in sports – and in life for that matter.

To be fair this year’s draft (at least the first round) had its fair share of drama. With former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford a foregone conclusion as the top overall selection, attention shifted down the draft order to who would go where.

In the early part of the round team officials could be seen making feverish phone calls in their attempt to nab former University of Southern California QB Mark Sanchez.

There was also some manoeuvring for a pair of standout wide receivers in former Texas Tech Red Raider Michael Crabtree and former Missouri Tiger Jeremy Machlin.

From there it would be which trio of star college players would be drafted in that round (if at all) in Florida’s Percy Harvin, Ohio State’s Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells and West Virginia’s Pat White.

In addition the draft does have a huge bearing on the league and its future. Only a few years ago Jay Cutler, who used to play at the University of Vanderbilt, was selected by the Denver Broncos.

There were questions about whether he could play in the league but so far he has been a good player and was one of the top passers last season.

Much the same could be said of Peyton Manning, Eli Manning (both of whom have won Super Bowl titles) and last year’s high pick Matt Ryan who guided the Atlanta Falcons to an improbable playoff appearance.

Then again for all those success stories there are always the unproven players. Former Bengals QB Akili Smith, San Francisco QB Alex Smith and last year’s top pick Jamarcus Rusell of the Oakland Raiders all come to mind.

Nevertheless the coverage of the draft needs to be in moderation. It’s hard to believe any major sporting event like playoffs and regular season baseball games should take a backseat to the draft. On the other hand it’s a good thing other networks aside from ESPN broadcast sports.

About the fairest concession would be to televise just the first round of the draft and simply post updates on the internet for the rest. That way the draft gets its rightful share of publicity but at the same time other more important happenings get precedence.

At the end of the day, no matter how NFL fans here and abroad felt about the draft, its importance will only come to light when the draftees play. Until then one can only study a team’s present state to see if it matches up to its past.