The NFL draft is a mere 3 weeks away and this years main off-season event has about as much intrigue as the NBA lottery…for a non-NBA fan. In other words, there simply isn’t the hype of years past. Perhaps some of that is a direct result to the oft talked about rookie boycott of the draft by the current players. That scenario played out like a day time soap. Now with more than 20 players invited and most of those agreeing to attend, that stigma is now gone.
Yet what is an annual plethora of site to site mock drafts has really dwindled to scant updates on those done a month or so ago, if not longer.
The question is why?, and the answer is easy enough to, well, answer.
For starters, the NFL Draft is all about the addition of playmakers, future stars, and serious needs. This year no one really knows. It all simply surrounds the labor disruption. Teams don’t know which direction they should go in. When it’s a team like Miami who has a coach sitting somewhat uneasy in his coaching chair, a GM who has now had two significant black eyed off-seasons (Dez Bryant’s mother question last year and this years flight of fancy to woo Jim Harbaugh), and a new OC in Brian Daboll who is coming from of all places, the Cleveland Browns, it’s a lot harder to predict.
The draft has been been, for the better part of two decades, the off-season Super Bowl for the NFL. The standard to which all other pro-sports wish they had in their back pocket. The NBA has tried unsuccessfully to replicate its success while the NHL and MLB have simply stayed away from hoopla that a live draft brings. This year, eh, not so much.
Fans are all looking forward to the draft as a way to get away from all of the labor garbage going on. Unfortunately, while the interest is still there, the intense debate and banter is not. You could even say that some of the excitement that comes from the build-up to the draft is down considerably.
Look no further than the lack of free agency to pin that lack of interest on.
In years past, teams have already added new faces to their rosters in various areas. They have lost key components of their rosters as well. Combined, the NFL Draft suddenly becomes the fill in spot and drives speculation towards team needs in a more specific manner. Sticking with the Miami Dolphins as an example, a free agency period would have likely seen departures of Tyler Thigpen, Ricky Williams, and Ronnie Brown. It may have seen another veteran QB in Miami, or the addition of someone like a DeAngelo Williams to fill the void in the back-field.
That would have left fans turning over the various names associated with the draft on what was once a weekly basis in the form of mocks. One week it might appear that the team was looking at a RB, a trade down, or a QB, the next week, the movers and shakers from pro-day failures and successes would alter the landscape of mock drafts and suddenly last weeks attempt was so, 1980.
This year, many mocks have not changed one bit. Some may have Cam Newton as the number 1 overall pick while others may have Blaine Gabbert. At 15 some have yet to change from Mark Ingram while others still hold the contention that the Phins will go with a QB. With the lack of free agent moving there is really no reason to alter an opinion on what a team may or may not do. It simply comes down to what each team really needs based solely on the speculation that they won’t find it later when and if free agency begins.
As much as many fans have grown bored with hearing about the CBA topics, the NFL Draft lead-ins have also started to suffer interest as well.
The fans are not the only ones affected either. Consider that the league GM’s are normally locked into secret mode tossing out whatever smokescreen they can to pursued others that their intents are something below the surface. This year, teams simply are not blowing smoke. There is no need to. Looking across the landscape of the NFL, each of the 32 teams has holes to fill that are currently voided by non-contracted free agents leaving holes on their rosters and what many would assume to be more speculation on what players may or may not be arriving to those teams VIA the draft.
Without free agency, the GM’s and decision makers, can’t look at another team to take an educated guess to where they may go to fill their vacancies, so instead of speculating, they simply are going about their business and no one really knows what to think.
The Draft is a premier event. So much so that it moved to prime time television last year and exceeded the expectations of attendance and viewers. Yet for all the talk that started in early March that surrounded the first week of the league new year, this years draft simply is becoming a reprieve from the labor talks and news.
And in that process, it has lost some of it’s luster and intrigue. So what level of interest in this years draft are you sitting on?