- - Wednesday, April 24, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The NFL has a laundry list of things done poorly, including its handling of concussions, player discipline and Colin Kaepernick. But there’s no denying one thing the league has mastered:

Making a buck.

The Super Bowl once was just a championship game. Now kickoff merely culminates a weeklong festival, giving host cities a boost that puts major conventions to shame. The early offseason once was a dead zone. Now the annual NFL scouting combine is circled on calendars, sort of an Olympics for NFL hopefuls in shorts and T-shirts.

And then there’s the draft.

It once was a dull, drab event held in unvarnished ballrooms. Now the “NFL Draft Experience” is a slick production that takes place over three days, drawing hundreds of thousands of fans for interactive festivities. Held in Nashville this year, beginning Thursday, “the Experience will be the largest to date and the first to integrate a free concert series,” the league said in a statement.



Considering the draft’s expense and the attention it draws in the ramp up — let alone on national TV when the first round gets underway — there’s no way the NFL wants Arizona’s intentions known ahead of time.

That would be a waste of perfectly fine drama, suspense and intrigue, even if the Cardinals know exactly what they plan to do once they’re on the clock. “We’re still working through things,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters Tuesday. “It is a process. I wouldn’t say the hay is in the barn.”

Either way, the league likely told them to keep the barn doors closed until Thursday, when the dominoes — and maybe the quarterbacks — start falling.

Naturally, the Cardinals’ decision has major implications on a few QB-starved teams, including the franchise in D.C. Vice president of player personnel Doug Williams cooled speculation that Washington might acquire Arizona’s Josh Rosen via trade, but we can’t believe anything an NFL executive utters at this time of year.

A deal could be in place, just waiting to be announced, and the Cardinals still would waffle publicly on selecting Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick.

But it’s also possible that Arizona’s best offers will come after Murray is off the board, essentially putting Rosen on the market against the likes of Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Missouri’s Drew Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones.

As usual, mock drafts are all over the place. Many have Murray going to the Cardinals. At least one has the Cardinals passing on Murray, who then is drafted by Oakland. At least one has Lock as the second quarterback taken. Several have Haskins dropping to Washington at No. 15.

The latter scenario would suit the local product just fine.

“There definitely something there,” Haskins told NFL Network on Monday. “I feel like there’s a great relationship with the Redskins. My mentor Shawn Springs played for the Redskins. Great relationship with Mr. Snyder and the rest of the Redskins ownership. Whatever team picks me, I’ll be excited to be a part of, but there’s definitely something there in D.C.”

Haskins falling to No. 15 would be unmerited favor for Snyder, whose son was a classmate at The Bullis School in Potomac. It also would be a nice do-over for the region, considering that Haskins originally planned to attend Maryland but changed his mind after Randy Edsall was fired.

However, another “homecoming” could be ahead. Before relocating to Maryland, Haskins’ family lived in New Jersey and rooted for the New York Giants. He’ll have to get by the Giants, who hold the sixth pick, to have a chance at landing in D.C.

Even then, there’s a mock draft that has Cincinnati taking at Haskins at No. 10.

At 6-3 and 220 pounds he has the physical attribute of a prototypical quarterback. He only played one season as a starter at Ohio State, but it was an eye-popper: 4,831 yards and 50 touchdown passes while completing 70 percent of his passes.

Envisioning him in burgundy-and-gold is easy, though it might just be a cruel way to tease ourselves. Things haven’t worked out for this franchise in quite some time. (#FireBruceAllen).

It’s probably too much to hope for.

I don’t know why he reportedly has tumbled down some draft boards, whether that’s real or make-believe. I also don’t care. Washington is desperate for a franchise quarterback, a search that should end if he’s available.

Enjoy the draft!

And thank the NFL for making the event what it is today.

⦁ Brooklyn-born and Howard-educated, Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.

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