Unlike most of his peers, Eagles coach Chip Kelly is willing to pull the curtain back on the draft process and admit that it’s more blind luck than science.
“You don’t know how it’s going to pan out,” Kelly said the morning after round one of the 2014 draft. “Just going through the analytics of it, 50 percent of first-round picks don’t make it. That’s through the history of time.”
More recently, Kelly bemoaned the hype around the draft, which is driven in large part by the ever-growing draft-expert machine. Apart from the fact that the draft experts never acknowledge that half the prospects bust and that we don’t know and won’t know who they are until they’re in the NFL, Kelly believes that, for some guys, the hype makes it harder to not be a bust.
“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,” Kelly told Peter King.
Kelly was asked to elaborate on his point during a Monday press conference, specifically as it relates to the hype surrounding second-round receiver Jordan Matthews. While Kelly said he’s not concerned about the talk regarding Matthews, who already has been compared to Terrell Owens, Kelly explained his position on draft hype generally.
“I think the draft is integral obviously with putting together your team but literally from the day the Super Bowl ends until the draft, at the ending of May, or the beginning of June or maybe push it to July at some point in time; that’s all everybody talks about,” Kelly said. “I felt the same way in college. You devote everything to the signing day. Well, how many of those guys on the signing day are actually going to contribute? You may have one or two of your rookies that have an impact on your team but the rest of them it’s a part of having them develop. . . .
“The fact that people would watch the Combine; there’s times at the Combine where I fall asleep,” Kelly added. “So I don’t know why people watch it on television. They are running 40‑yard dashes.”
Kelly then reiterated his comparison of the draft-hype dynamic to other industries.
“[Y]ou guys are in the newspaper business,” Kelly said. “If someone is a rookie coming into the newspaper thing, I don’t think you all just start applauding and saying, ‘Oh my God, the savior is here and our paper is safe because we just signed a kid out of Northwestern because the kid has really good prose.’ But in football it seems to be the biggest deal in the world and if a guy is not an All‑Pro in his first year but he was drafted in the first five picks, obviously he’s a bust.”
Kelly is right. But what he didn’t say is that the NFL ultimately stirs the draft-hype drink via a TV and online media machine that no one will pay attention to if it’s not generating content.
I’m not complaining. We cover the draft and the hype and everything that goes along with it. But we’re always honest about the fact that there’s a disconnect between the impression that the draft experts have it all figured out and the reality that no one does.
Still, if the NFL or the rest of the draft-expert industry would use slogans like “Tune in for the crapshoot” in the ads and promos, fans eventually would ask, “Why am I watching?”
“Because it’s on TV” would only work for so long.