By James Howey
I absolutely love the NFL draft. I know I’m crazy but here’s the thing; I’m not alone. The NFL Draft is the Super Bowl of the offseason. It’s really a celebration of both college and pro football. Last year’s draft set records for the highest rated draft yet and I have no doubt this draft will top that. This year’s draft has so much hype surrounding the players in it that many experts have said that it’s one of the greatest classes ever.
This class features great depth at the wide receiver position. With guys like Texas A&M’s Mike Evans, Clemson’s Deandre Hopkins, and USC’s Marques Lee, expect the receiver position to be highly touted during the draft. The most effective pass catcher may actually be North Carolina Tight End Eric Ebron. With the tight end becoming a critical match-up problem for NFL defenses Ebron’s size and speed give him the looks of a potential NFL star. What is usually the biggest story line in any draft is where will the quarterbacks end up? This draft is no different.
Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater who seemed like a lock for a top five pick has completely plunged down many teams’ draft boards and may not be drafted until the second round. UCF’s Blake Bortles has climbed up draft boards with his NFL prototypical style and many believe he may be the first overall pick. Houston’s Derek Carr and Eastern Illinois Jimmy Garoppolo who both had productive careers at smaller schools have also worked their way higher up team’s draft boards. But the two people that will be the headliners of this draft are the playboy and the behemoth. Of course I’m referring to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Both of these players have garnered attention for both good and bad reasons throughout their college careers.
Manziel was the first ever freshman to win the Heisman Trophy and was one of the most productive players in SEC history. Manziel has also had countless but mostly minor issues off the field dealing with drinking, partying and just being in the spotlight too much. Despite these issues to me if you are a team in the first round that needs a quarterback such as the Raiders, Vikings, Browns, and Jaguars you have to take Manziel.
Clowney has shown he is maybe the best pure athlete to come out in the draft in many years. Clowney had a monstrous freshman and sophomore year that made him one of the most dominant defensive players ever in college football. The expectations for Clowney‘s junior year were pretty much impossible to live up to and Clowney’s production declined drastically in that season. Many people have questioned if he really loves football or is he just a great athlete that plays football? Some people have even elevated the University of Buffalo’s defensive end Khalil Mack over Clowney thinking that he is just a better football player. Bottom line: Clowney is a great player with once-in-a-generation talent that will only get better in NFL with great coaching and experience.
Besides the gigantic extravaganza that the NFL has become, the NFL draft is also about hundreds of young men that have reached their lifelong dream of playing in the NFL and will begin a journey into the harsh cut-throat world that is the National Football League. The Draft is also another example of just how much more pull the NFL has over any other sport. The NBA playoffs is in the middle of maybe the greatest first round of the playoffs in the history of the sport and once the Clippers owner Donald sterling came out with these alleged racist comments, that’s all people are talking about.
Meanwhile, everyone will be buzzing about the NFL draft. Let alone that the draft is just a draft and it’s amazing that it competes with the NBA playoffs in any way. What most people won’t know is that the Bengals, Raiders, and Bills cheerleader’s teams have all filed for lawsuits with their teams. The squads have complained of not even making minimum wage and having to pay for their own uniforms. The Bills cheerleaders even were subjected to a jiggle test and appearing at a golf event wearing just bikinis. The NBA gets a huge black eye from a racist owner but what does the NFL get with mistreatment of cheerleaders?
Contact James Howey, sports editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.