The NFL draft is almost here. Come Thursday all the hours and hours and hours of analysts’ speculation, sports dweebs getting their dweeb on (*Author’s note: see: me) about the entire process, and years of tireless preparation, will come to a head. Roger Goodell will stride to the podium in a suit that costs more than college tuition and put an end to the dramatically drawn out predictions and mock drafts. He’ll tap the mic, clear his throat and make someone a millionaire. Then he’ll do it again. He’ll turn towards the cameras and alter the sporting fate of an entire franchise. The NFL draft is coming, oh yes, and here are the questions I’m most excited to watch for this Thursday night.
1. What happens with picks 3, 4, and 5?
These picks belong to the Minnesota Vikings, the Cleveland Browns, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively. While the top 2 picks are all but assuredly going to be Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, standard reasoning would dictate that each of these teams will address their needs in their current positions. However, recently these three teams have all been letting on that they’re all open to trade possibilities. Will there be any trades? Who knows. The teams in the NFL all famously engage in Cold War levels of subterfuge and misinformation prior to the draft. Some of it could be real, the rest could be some smoke screen that would make the Kings and Queens in Game of Thrones look like beacons of truth and honesty. Personally, I’m betting it’s just like the talking heads predict at these three picks: Matt Kalil, Trent Richardson, and Morris Claiborne. Do I hope there’re trades galore and more partner-swapping during the early stages of the draft than on Jersey Shore? Absolutely.
2. Did the Fonz jump the shark?
Alfonzo Dennard nearly went pro last year. After a stellar junior season the Husker defensive back took a long, hard look at the NFL before deciding to return to Lincoln for his senior season. After spending a chunk of the season injured he returned to a season of above average, but not spectacular, play which unfortunately culminated with an ejection in the Capital One Bowl after a shoving match turned to punches with South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffrey. Last Saturday Dennard was arrested after allegedly punching a police officer outside of a downtown Lincoln bar. According to reports it took 4 officers to arrest the incensed former Husker. No word yet on how many officers it took to wrestle him out of his patented leather jacket. Sources indicated that Dennard had been involved in an altercation when, after punching the juke box to start it, another guy changed it off of his favorite tunes. Dennard, who was reached for comment would only say this to reporters, “Heyyyyyy.” (*Author’s note: alright. I’m done.)
It will be interesting to me to see how this arrest will impact Dennard’s draft status. He had already been mildly underwhelming this season, the opposite of many predictions that had him being an All-American type player that would get him on the radars of many scouts in the NFL, but this latest setback could negatively impact his position amongst the other corners in this year’s crop. Will GM’s let him slide or will they look at this as just another slip up by a young, talented player? We’ll have to wait to see. A talented player who has found himself on the wrong side of the law and has what some would call “character issues but has good/very good potential? Paging Jerry Jones, please.
3. How often will the ESPN crew mention Robert Griffin III’s hurdling ability?
I have the over/under set at 11.5. In the first 30 minutes of the show.
4. Will the Bow Tie Renaissance continue in full swing?
Bow ties are, unfortunately, back. They’ve exploded in a nerdy mushroom cloud of plaid and there may not be any survivors. We’re potentially going to suffer through a parade of guys who look like they’re dressing in vintage Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in HD and I’m not looking forward to that at all. And since I know literally nothing about fashion that leads us into. . .
5. Will more guys wear fake glasses or dress like they took fashion advice from Craig Sager?
I can’t make up my mind on this one. The fake glasses trope has never been hotter with modern athletes. For some reason it’s now cooler to look like Clark Kent than Superman. However, I’m hoping that at least one of the athletes invited to NYC to sit in the greenroom and wait to have their names called will show up wearing his entire signing bonus. I’m hoping for, at the minimum, 3 bowler hats, 1 cane and as many diamonds the size of tractor hubcaps as possible. The pimpier the clothes the better. I hope that at least one of these gentleman goes all in and arrives looking like a Las Vegas pimp that just got blackjack 30 times in a row and cashed out.
6. Who will be this year’s Most Chill Bro?
Every year there’s a high-profile draft pick who doesn’t want to come to New York, doesn’t care about soaking in the glitz and the glamor of the Draft Circus, and would prefer instead to go fishing with his Dad or skiing with his family or ______ (insert something rustic here)____. I’m fascinated to here what down-to-earth, too-cool-for-school player will be so undeniably chill that he won’t even show up for his own multi-million dollar party.
7. Who will be the last guy out of the greenroom?
Another recurring theme of the NFL draft’s live coverage is that there is, inevitably, a player who was invited to the proceedings who doesn’t get chosen as high as they thought and, in some cases slips really, excruciatingly far down the draft before being chosen. Every closeup of the hopeful, angst-ridden face of the player seems like it should have a Sarah McLachlan song playing in the background. Each time another one of the players’ cellphones rings around them and the player leaps to their feet the un-picked slider looks ready to puke. Depending on the player this is either vindicating (*Author’s note: Brady Quinn or any Texas player ever) or it makes your gut wrench like a cheaply made roller coaster loop. It’s a moment of human drama and fuel for many a fire for the unpicked player.
(*Author’s note: I think that the footage of a young Aaron Rodgers, watching pick after pick get chosen ahead of him, should be shown to any child who has been picked last during a game of dodgeball. On a related note, I still cry myself to sleep when I think of the 49ers taking Alex Smith first in that draft.)
8. Whose crib will be the nicest/most hood for the in-home cameras?
Another part of the draft I enjoy is the in-home cameras that many of the potential draftees have installed in their homes to show their jubilation when their name finally gets called. It’s equally interesting to see players’ families going unabashedly buckwild in gigantic houses and families in tiny, dumpy living rooms who you know have just literally gotten a new lease on their lives. The rooms usually explode, players get mobbed, and Mothers completely lose their minds.
9. What else could possibly go wrong for the Saints?
The Saints organization is reeling from more allegations of cheating. This time it was the GM of the team, Mickey Loomis, bugged the opposing team’s locker room (*Author’s note: the team was only .500 at home during the time period this listening device was allegedly used. Was there interference? Static? That’s not cheating very efficiently, the Saints) and this comes on the heels of the Bounty scandal the team was involved in as well.
These guys cheat more than the dudes on Maury: My Boyfriend Cheated 68 Times, Is This Baby His or His Father’s? Is there anything else the Saints can do wrong right now? Please tell me they were mixing cocaine in with the team’s Gatorade powder or are the ones who hired the hookers that the U.S. Secret Service was using in Colombia to try to gain a competitive advantage over the U.S. Government.
I’m sincerely hoping that as the Saints are in the draft room poring over their first selection (*Author’s note: somewhere in the 3rd round) that a crew of dudes in overly tight black t-shirts with handheld cameras come busting out of a side door and Joey Greco brings up the rear and fires off a, “Oh, I hope we’re not interrupting anything.” The way that only Greco can.
10. Will Chris Berman make me pull a double Van Gogh and hack off my ears?
Berman might be ESPN’s most famous analyst. He is also their most obnoxious, pretentious, blowhard (*Author’s note: apologies to Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith who actually are such D-bags that I cannot even put it into a coherent sentence) and every year during the draft I foolishly subject myself to his tyrannical reign as the focal point of ESPN’s draft coverage. If I listen to him long enough one of two things usually happens: 1) I become immune to his excessive volume, like a worker in a saw mill who’s been there for 20 years or 2) I listen for so long that I crack, writhe around in pain clutching at my ears like Claudius did me like the King in Hamlet. I’m hoping for the former, planning for the latter and still mulling over whether to just watch the NFL network’s coverage.