- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The first NFL Draft occurred at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia in 1936. Now in its 78th year, the draft, which begins Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, has never been more popular. The Washington Times looks at the some of the reasons why we love the NFL draft.

  • 10. Predictions: ESPN’s slick-haired guru Mel Kiper is the face of the NFL draft. This Maryland native with his mane has made a business out of prognosticating the draft since 1984, generating heated discussions over his opinions each team’s picks. Viewers tune in to see his analysis just as much as to see who their team chooses.
  • 9. Smoke and fire: In the weeks before the draft, NFL general managers and coaches frequently disguise their true intentions, not wanting to tip their hand on the players they want to draft. On the other hand, their smoke screens could be real and their interest in a player may be genuine. Viewers tune in to see whether a team’s interest in a certain player was feigned or not.
  • 8. Cheers and jeers: By allowing fans to attend the draft, the NFL helps to build a gamelike atmosphere. Fans cheer or jeer when the draft picks are announced. Viewers tune in just to see the crowd’s reaction to their teams’ selection.
  • 7. Building blocks: Teams that have been successful over the years tend to consistently do well on draft day. Since 2000, the New England Patriots, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Baltimore Ravens have won multiple Super Bowls. While these teams might sign the occasional big-name free agent, they prioritize building through the draft and have been rewarded with the Lombardi Trophy. Fans tune in to see their team hopefully assembling the talent to win it all.
  • 6. Diamond in the rough: Not every superstar is drafted in the first round. Three-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Tom Brady was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round (199th overall) of the 2000 NFL draft. America loves an underdog and tunes in to see what gems might be uncovered in later rounds.
  • 5. The old college try: Football drives collegiate athletics as evidenced by the recent conference realignments. It is a natural inclination to want to follow the stars of your alma mater or collegiate allegiance at the next level. Thus, people tune in to see where their favorite NCAA stars will land.
  • 4. The barter system: NFL teams frequently trade with one another during the draft in the hopes of acquiring a player whom they covet. This trading adds unpredictability to the draft, which in turn lends to the excitement.
  • 3. From boom to bust: Not every player selected high in the draft goes on to have a sterling NFL career. Whatever the reason for their lack (or perceived lack) of success, that player, perhaps unfairly, gets labeled a “bust.” Viewers tune in wondering which high draft choice a few years down the road might be a “bust.”
  • 2. Help me, I’m falling: There are always players who are expected to go high in the draft. When they don’t, they end up sliding down the draft board. Viewers tune in to see which team will break these players’ fall.
  • 1. The last shall be first: More than anything else, the NFL draft produces hope. If a team had a bad year, that team will pick toward the beginning of the rounds, infusing the team with new talent. Thus, with these players and a little pit of luck the team can make the playoffs the following year. See Washington Redskins 2012: RGIII.

Compiled by John Sopko
Sources: The New York Times, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Wikipedia