The fun begins as we approach the NFL Draft
Lying Season is almost over.
One more week to go.
Yes, it’s the best week of the year for a lot of National Football League fans and get-a-lifers.
Lying Season has gone on ever since the Super Bowl, through the NFL combine, and free agency. It’s been expanded with the help of social media, as every day there are links to stories that try to let you know what your team will do in the draft that begins Thursday night. It will last into this coming weekend, when general managers will tell you their pick was their guy all along or that they couldn’t believe their choice “was still available.”
At times, it can be pure entertainment. At times it can be maddening.But the NFL Draft is a unique event that has spawned several businesses over the years. Yes, publications, web sites, etc. The NFL now even takes bids from cities to host it, just like the Super Bowl. If it’s the NFL, everyone wants a piece of it. This year’s/weekend’s event is in Nashville. Next year? Vegas, Baby. That’s when what happens in Vegas really may not be able to stay there.
One of the most entertaining aspects of Lying Season are the pre-draft press conferences that NFL teams/executives/coaches have. Bill Belichick and his personnel man, Nick Caserio, have traded off being the front man for these over the years. The last couple of years it’s been Belichick, and the best comments we got were the fact the college passing game has absolutely nothing in common in with the pro game.
“I’d say the issue in college football is there just is not the same passing game in college football that there is in the Nfl, period,” Belichick said nearly two weeks ago. “So, it’s hard to evaluate the receivers, it’s hard to evaluate the quarterback, it’s hard to evaluate the offensive linemen, it’s hard to evaluate the pass rushers and it’s hard to evaluate the coverage players.”
Yikes. The one thing Belichick and Caserio have always done is thank in detail the people who work in the organization on the draft. From the human side, while the draft is a business for many, there are countless hours and people in each organization that pour their time into it.
And why not? An NFL team’s success depends on it.
The Patriots and the New York Giants go into this thing with 12 picks each, and you can bet by next Saturday night at 7 when all is said and one they won’t each have 12 newbies. There will be some wheeling and dealing.
Giants GM Dave Gettleman, who is from the Boston area, is a scream, or at least his press conferences are. His pre-draft presser was a riot as he tap danced around the New York media that was trying to get him to admit whether or not he planned to draft Eli Manning’s successor after having passed on that chance a year ago. What you keep hearing these last couple of weeks for the Patriots is a Giants redux, as many are thinking at Belichick at some point has to pick a quarterback. Because, as he so famously put it a few year ago when he drafted Jimmy Garappolo, we all know what Tom’s (Brady’s) age and contract status are.
But really, do we have an idea? After the Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia in 2018, many felt the Patriots would go heavy on defense in last year’s draft. They ended up chosing a running back (Sony Michel) who ended up helping them win another Super Bowl and an offensive lineman (Isiaah Wynn) who spent the year on injured reserve – like most of their picks did – with their two first rounders.
We also have to remember the draftees during Lying Season, whose nerves have to be on edge. There are as many as 500-plus college prospects out there and last year there were 256 players drafted. The rest wait by the phone for teams to sign them as rookie free agents. Who knows, they may end up being millionaires, but they certainly aren’t now. Just kids who want to keep playing ball.
There are also some strange or humorous stories heading into this week, like the one in which Raiders coach Jon Gruden sent all the scouts home and probably won’t let them into the draft room because he doesn’t trust anyone. Can’t make this stuff up when it comes to Chuckie.
Meanwhile, don’t you get a kick out of the mock drafts that come out as early as days after the Super Bowl? Perhaps even before.
But we leave you with Gettleman’s recollection of how it used to be, before the draft became The Draft. When, according to him, there really was no Lying Season.
“You read all the information,you’ve got 80 mock drafts, 20 guys who are in everybody’s first round,” he said last week. “Times have changed.”
Gettleman went on to talk about when he was an intern with the Bills working for Bill Polian. Polian had a legal pad, listed the 28 teams and their projected first round picks
“That’s the draft,” Gettleman said. “He had 26 of the 28. That was day when they all kibitzed with each other.
“You just have to relax and see what happens.”
Words to draft by. Enjoy the last week of the 2019 Lying Season.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251,firstname.lastname@example.org, or@Telegraph _TomK.