The NFL Draft has the same allure as a record Powerball jackpot.
Men (and some women) from around the globe converge onto the internet for about 11 and a half months to try an predict, analyze, and grade the next year of fresh prospects. We follow their every move, chart their plays, scour police blotters, and argue about their potential all the way up until their names are called… and then some more.
I’m not going to say that analysts, bloggers, or fans know nothing about these prospects. They know quite a bit, actually, and it really is impressive how much more the common man knows about Tyrann Mathieu’s pee than he knows about… oh, we’ll go with Darfur here in order to maintain my long and proud tradition of being completely cliche.
While we know quite a bit about these prospects, and know even more about the rosters that make up our favorite teams, the truth is that the ultimate reality show that is the NFL Draft process gets it’s appeal from the fact that it is almost completely, utterly, 100 percent unpredictable. Outside of some obvious top three picks, the only thing that is predictable about the NFL Draft is that it will be unpredictable (see, cliche after cliche, I can’t help myself).
Now, I have been predicting all offseason long that the Vikings would aim to select Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o in the first round of this week’s Draft, and wavered on that prediction only momentarily between Percy Harvin’s departure from Minnesota and Greg Jennings’ arrival.
That is why I was shocked to see someone much older, much more experienced, and someone that is supposed to be much wiser than me make a bold and perhaps foolish statement.
“It is a 100 percent certainty that the Vikings will wind up with Te’o,” wrote 1500 ESPN‘s Patrick Reusse this weekend.
Now, there are plenty of ways to justify the selection of Te’o and patterns one could read into to try and predict that it will happen. Rick Spielman’s affinity for Notre Dame players. Spielman’s extensive visits with Te’o prior to the Draft. The Vikings glaring hole at the middle linebacker spot. The departure of Jasper Brinkley. His talent as a prospective player in the NFL.
Yet, Reusse backs up his ridiculous statement by dismissing those reasons and points to a different pattern, one that a rational person might say has absolutely zero bearing on what happens this Thursday evening. He says that the Vikings just can’t keep themselves from having training camp drama, to the Nth degree, and points to numerous obvious examples over the years to back up his assessment. Te’o, of course, is expected to bring a certain amount of circus atmosphere with him to the NFL following his fake dead girlfriend hoax storyline that mangled and otherwise fantastic collegiate career.
In short, he expects us to believe that Jim McMahon being brought in to start for the Vikings in 1993 is a legitimate reason for expecting the Vikings to draft Te’o.
I planned to write a Monday night article warning our readers against the dangers of buying into what you read and hear in the days approaching the actual event. Reusse essentially wrote that article for me with that gem he graced us with.
The Vikings have clear needs at wide out, linebacker, and in the defensive secondary. They are aging along the defensive line. Rick Spielman loves to make his draft board align with the roster needs by moving around early and often.
There are these patterns that give clues to how this mystery novel is going to end, and they are fun to talk about.
However, like any great mystery novel, the ending is not only inevitable…
It is unpredictable.