There’s no question that the NFL loves the draft and all they hype that goes along with it.
They’ve added days to the process, moved it to prime time and pushed it further back in the calendar to expand the amount of eyes taking in the move from college to the pros for the top prospects in the land. They spend plenty of time and money to promote the event each year and get even more free publicity from around the country as mock drafts and draftniks help whet everyone’s appetite for the selections, a hyperbolic process that inevitably leads to huge expectations for players a few years removed from high school.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly has gone through the process twice on the NFL side and he doesn’t share the league’s fondness for the event.
“What’s the worst thing about the league? I said the draft. I mean, the hype that goes into the draft is insane. Totally insane,” Kelly said, via Peter King of TheMMQB.com. “The biggest thing for me is that everybody thinks whoever you drafted or whoever you signed is now gonna be a savior. They come in just like me and you come in as freshmen in high school or freshmen in college, or your first year on the job at Sports Illustrated — you’re not telling people what to do, you’re just trying to figure out what room to go to.”
“I think a lot of times the hype turns into really, really hard times for the individual who got picked, because there’s so many expectations of everyone building them up to be Superman because they had three months to write about them and talk about them. Then when they get picked, they’re a very, very good prospect, but there’s a learning curve when you go from any job out of college into a company. If you take a job at Wells Fargo when you get out of college, your first day of the job they don’t say, ‘He’s our first-round draft pick, he’s the savior to the company!'”
Kelly went on to add the NFLPA’s Rookie Premiere event, post-draft grades and just about everything short of the food in the Eagles’ war room onto the list of things he doesn’t like about the draft process. Kelly’s either going to have to grin and bear it or find somewhere else to coach, though.
While the draft came into existence as a way for teams to add young players to their rosters, it has gradually become a television show devoted to promoting the league and a new crop of future stars. That creates an industry for people trying to make it seem like there’s a science, rather than educated guessing, to picking 21-year-olds who will become great 26-year-old football players and a message that the moves made over seven rounds in the spring can profoundly change the fortunes of a team in the fall.
With those conditions in place, hype is an unavoidable byproduct and it is one that isn’t going anywhere.