One diehard’s draft analysis [UPDATED]Published 4:00am Monday, April 22, 2013 Updated 6:04am Monday, April 22, 2013
If there’s any consolation to the fact that I won’t be playing golf or enjoying the lake late next week, it’s that I can focus on my geeky passion – the NFL draft.
The draft starts Thursday night with the first round. The Vikings – thanks to the trade of Percy Harvin and other transactions – have 11 picks overall, including two in the first round.
Most Vikings fans are agreed on who they should select with those choices. Wide receiver is by far their biggest need, and according to all the draft “experts,” the wide receiver class has plenty of depth. Defense is also a huge need. Teams can never have too many good players in the secondary – especially when you have to play against quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford twice a year – and they need more. But they also don’t have a legit middle linebacker. And their defensive line, while among the best in the NFL, is getting old.
While none of us are sure what to make of Christian Ponder, the fact that he was a high first-round pick, and the fact that former NFL starter Matt Cassel was signed as a backup, means they aren’t likely to pick a quarterback. With Adrian Peterson, running back isn’t an immediate need, either. The Vikes could use some backups along the offensive line, and will likely use some of their later picks to address that need.
To those of you who aren’t diehard Vikings fans, I’m sure I have already caused you to throw the paper in the burn pile. I get it – why is it that fans are so pumped about what really is a non-event?
You non-draft enthusiasts say, “Sure, I don’t mind reading about who the Vikings select in the paper the next day, but why is it necessary to watch television coverage for hours, listening to loudmouthed former NFL players and draft gurus with big hair (Mel Kiper) drone on about the 40 times of some college cornerback you’ve never heard of while peeking in to a draft “war room” that consists of team executives talking to each other, talking on the cell phone, and scribbling on notepads while a team is “on the clock?”
You got me. I’m not sure why I – and the millions of fans who watch the NFL draft – are so interested.
I have to admit, there’s a certain hollowness to it.
You get to the end of the draft, and the Vikings have made all their picks and exciting trades, and fans have…a bunch of names. That’s all they are. Fans might delight in the fact that their team needed a wide receiver and drafted one in the first round, or groan because their team needed a wide receiver and didn’t draft one.
But you have to wait three to five years before you really know whether a draft will pan out.
For one thing, most fans haven’t the first clue whether a player is good enough to play in the NFL. Oh sure, you may have seen a player perform in college. But really, other than the star running backs, quarterbacks and receivers, do fans really pay attention to college players? I can tell you that I have better things to do than spend my Saturdays watching random games to see whether particular free safeties might be a good fit for the Vikings.
Of course, many executives don’t either. For every first-round star (Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Chad Greenway) there are probably two to three first-round busts (Erasmus James, Dimitrius Underwood and D.J. Dozier.)
Defensive tackle Steve Emtman was the first overall pick in the 1992 draft, started 10 games in his six-year career, and is arguably considered the biggest draft bust of all time. John Randle wasn’t selected in the 1990 NFL draft, and he is in the Hall of Fame.
So what is it, again, about the NFL draft that is so great?
Maybe it’s just the idea that the Vikings have potentially made moves to get better. Maybe it’s the fact that my Vikings aren’t playing games, and it’s the only interesting thing going on with them. Maybe it’s that I enjoy Mel Kiper’s hair helmet so much.
Come to think of it, I really wish it would get nicer outside, so I could avoid it.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. Email him at email@example.com