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A Muted Kickoff to a Creeping Draft Frenzy

Now that I've spilled my guts about how frustrated I am that Seattle is likely to skip a chance to draft a franchise quarterback, I will now bitch about something else. No really, I'm not sour about the draft, but good God am I ready for next Monday, and not just because it's my birthday. The infernal debates, the groupthink, the jargon, the total and utter lack of evidence by anyone. Abandon all reason ye who attempts to report on the draft. It's not real. It's every fanboy dream embodied in a few hundred unsuspecting young men. You, you're a bust. You, come on down next Eric Dickerson.

The draft is important. Oh yeah? Yeah, I guess. It's how the NFL populates its league. One draft is not that important. It's important sure, and it can shave a few wins, add a few wins, but it's an accumulation of talent from multiple drafts, trades and free agency that builds a contender. It's coaching. It's luck. This time last year, Seattle was facing its most important draft in..etc. Well, it deferred some of that importance to this year. It still had a fourth overall pick, a second round pick and a third. What did it get from those picks? Well, so far, not a whole hell of a lot. If Seattle started the 2009 season with x linebacker, x starting right guard and x receiver, it would have been as good or better than it was with Aaron Curry, Max Unger and Deon Butler.

NFL regulars are sensationally good. It's not said enough. The reason the NFL is so amazing, why the players are paid millions and why seemingly can't-miss talent misses so much, is that NFL regulars are sensationally good. A sort of NFL version of Hoop Dreams was released a few years back called Two Days in April. You can stream it over Netflix. It lacks the depth and pathos of Hoop Dreams, but it effectively conveys the same intimidation. The young players, the kids, they can't comprehend, but they are about to fail.

Many of the first round pick, they're about to fail. Most of the second round picks, oh boy, you know they're about to fail. Everyone else, good luck. If it wasn't this way, it wouldn't be good football. It would be the Winter Olympics. Why was hockey clearly most exciting part of the winter games? because scoring is transparent. There is no preordained winner, and I don't need fifteen people to explain why x figure skater is surely the best and y has no chance in hell. My wife enjoys Olympic figure skating and I can appreciate the athleticism, technique and grace, but the process by which they decide a winner is opaque and, to put it nicely, arcane. Once a favorite has been named, anything short of a fall will not stop that person from winning. The Winter Olympics is full of this kind of event. Shaun White won his event before his final run.

If White was a NFL prospect and the NFL run like the Winter Olympics, I would want Sam Bradford, too. I would want Bradford and Suh and McCoy if Mayock says so, because around this time they're gold medalists, everyone. Imagine how good Curry would have been last season if he was judged? Everyone was so adamant the kid was special, I think he would have been awarded at least 10 sacks. If he could really keep it together, maybe a pick six or three.

Curry did nothing of the like, of course. He joined a bad team under a bad head coach and struggled. His reputation didn't help him a lick, and when the season was over, other linebacker prospects from the same class had overshadowed him. It was awesome. Curry did not have the skills or agility to be a great edge rusher to start his career, and in the very objective standard of did he tackle a quarterback attempting to make a throw, Curry scored poorly.

The lead up to the draft is run like the Winter Olympics though. It's all opinion. It's all opinion and arbitrary hoops that may or may not accurately represent NFL talent and skills. It all starts with a few nationally recognized scouting agencies, and, yep, those agencies do succeed, somewhat. Not to blow the lid of the process, but it's not nearly the feat of science and magic it's made out to be. Players were once recruits and those recruits are easy to gauge: If you're huge, or incredibly fast, if you turn on a dime or play all-state linebacker and quarterback for the same team, and, mostly, if you are all the above, well, you stand out. You take that talent and do the same thing at the next level, you make the leap. I am not sure why some people insist on being so very reverential to scouting, but when Mike Tanier shared a scouting report that highlighted a player's "loose shoulders," I didn't think, "Wow, how could they notice that? What expertise they must have!" But, rather, "this seems like the same crap that convinced us of Mark Prior's perfect pitching mechanics."

Anyway, if you're curious why I am not indulging so much in the pre-draft this year, it's because I am sick of it. It's a cottage industry and it's run amok. Baseball holds a draft, and avid fans are excited to restock their farm system and maybe grab an elite talent, but fans don't think, "We've got Ackley. It's World Series time." Or, "Ackley! No! He's overrated!" It's a long road from prospect to player. The existing players, oh yeah, they will decide a team's future, not the incoming class. Football has a shorter path, in that, it doesn't have a minor league, but otherwise it's not too far off. Most picks fail. Some players will take years to reach their potential. The team who "wins" a draft is often the team that selects Albert Pujols in the 13th round. Injuries can derail everything.

It's crazy, and my timing is terrible, but I am more excited for the second year of Aaron Curry, the second year of Max Unger, the sixth year of Chris Spencer, the third year of John Carlson, the third year and hopefully first year starting for Justin Forsett -- the guys that were once prospects but graduated to something more interesting, exciting and important. You know, real NFL players and not fantasies.