This is one crazy weekend for me. I will be at Planet Comicon talking to as many of the 60,000 or so attendees as I can starting 11ish tomorrow.
But I’ll also have an eye on one of my favorite weekends of the sports year, the NFL Draft.
Now, this isn’t like the full Opening Day of baseball or the Super Bowl, which are national holidays to me. No, this is sort of like a combination of final exams and kiln Christmas, the term my potter friends for the moment when the open the kiln after a firing and see what their final results are.
I love thinking about sports from a GM’s perspective. In other words, how they create rosters, even to the point of considering how I would adjust to fit under salary caps. I probably know more about NFL salary cap structures than nearly all non-accountants.
It’s a complicated dance, sort of like a multi-faceted Sudoku game. The numbers have to line up, and I love the challenge of playing armchair GM.
For people like me, the NFL draft is a lot of fun. Other drafts are interesting, but the NBA draft is tooooo short (2 rounds). The baseball draft is tooooo long (30+ rounds). The NFL draft, however, is juuuuust right. 7 rounds, 32 teams, which would be 224 picks, but we also add a number of compensatory picks awarded to teams who lost some free agents the previous year. This year, all told, there are 253 picks.
I watch enough college football and absorb enough research, mock drafts, and scouting reports, that I have some idea about 300 players going into the draft.
I then spend the draft seeing if what I’ve judged matches what the true experts judged.
And then it keeps giving, because you really can’t judge a draft until its 3rd year, so yes, I pay attention to NFL players that I thought were interesting, or would be busts, from many years past.
How do I do, you may ask? Pretty good, actually. I’ve learned some things that generally make more of a difference than one might think.
For example, speed is important for a wide receiver, as one would guess, but past a certain point (around 4.6 40-yard dash), the physical attribute most correlated with success for receivers is height. All else being equal, a receiver with 4.59 speed who’s 6ft 3in will do better in the NFL than a receiver with 4.39 speed who’s 5ft 10in. The reason for this is that the people who defend receivers need exceptional quickness, but few taller players have exceptional quickness.
Pass rushers need long arms more than anything else, but of course if they don’t have a certain baseline of strength they can’t do much. Still, 36in arms are a huge leg up, so to speak, for a defensive lineman. The reason, by the way, is that if an offensive linemen gets his hands on a defensive lineman, it’s difficult for the defender to get to the ballcarrier.
Lots of stuff like this. Fascinating for me.
And the players often have interesting stories. One of the sad stories this year is that of Jake Butt. Yes, that’s his name. And yes, he’s a tight end. The jokes write themselves. The sad part of the story is that he got hurt in his final college game and he lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, he’s definitely got a sense of humor. Charmin has hired him as one of their spokesbutts… er… spokesmen.
The first round of the draft is tonight. The second and third tomorrow night. The final four rounds on Saturday.
I’ll be watching every pick when I can, more curious than any cat about the trades that shape the draft.
And yes, you can expect a draft review next week. Once I’ve recovered.