DRAFTING FOR THE FUTURE
It’s time once again for the annual National Football League Draft of eligible players coming out of colleges and universities from across the United States and around the world. This year the ceremony will take place in Nashville, Tennessee on April 25-27, where 111 pro football hopefuls, the largest number of applicants ever, have announced their intentions to throw their respective hats into the ring and see what the market will bear.
The majority of those applicants have been living in dormitories on meager allowances deemed appropriate by the Mark Emmert and the NCAA but which everyone else knows is not nearly enough to ever feel secure with. Now they are facing the possibility of changing all that for themselves, and usually their families as well into what most people only entertain as fantasy, an NFL contract. Some will go home rich, others will be bitterly disappointed.
In order to be eligible for the NFL Draft, a player must be out of high school for at least three years. The deadline for upperclassmen to declare for the draft expired on January 14, 2019. So the stage is set. Everyone knows who, when and where, but endless speculation abounds about who goes where and in what order. It’s already been going on for months. The Mock Draft. An incredible amount of time and energy seems to go into this glorified guesswork. It surely takes up a lot of space in print, perhaps too much.
One thing fixed on the agenda is the draft order. It might seem a great thing to have the number one draft pick. But what that actually means is that your team was the absolute worst team in the entire NFL last year, hardly a worthy distinction. But that is how parody is built in professional sports and it works to keep the teams on a more or less even keel and avoid allowing the team with the most money to buy the best players.
Now the NFL Scouting Combines are over and done with and the seemingly endless discussion of who should go where become moot. It‘s time for each team to get down to the nitty-gritty task of actually picking the best available young player for their particular team. It’s no easy job and each team employs specialists for the duration of the process. Millions of dollars are spent.
The Arizona Cardinals have the dubious distinction of having the first pick in the draft for 2019 followed by the San Francisco 49ers, the New York Jets and Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders. Due to the complicated practice of inter-team trading of draft picks, some teams, like the New Orleans Saints, do not even have a pick in the first round this year because they traded it away last year.
All the speculation and guesswork go out the window on April 25 when Commissioner Roger Goodell steps up to the podium and announces that the 2019 NFL Draft is officially underway.