Was The 2012 NFL Draft The Best NFL Draft Ever?
Full disclosure: Over the course of the last few years, I’ve become a big fan of the NFL Draft. Part of that is because, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more interested in watching college football games on Saturdays in the fall. And the other part is that football has undoubtedly become my favorite sport in the last five years or so (sorry, basketball!). As a result of those two factors, I usually make it until about March every year until I start missing football after the Super Bowl. And, in recent years, that feeling has gotten even stronger in April and coincided with the NFL Draft. So, it’s become a bit of an event at my household and I treat it almost like I would a Sunday afternoon during football season (beer, wings, and chips included!).
All of that being said, I really enjoyed watching this year’s NFL Draft. Maybe it’s because I’ve come to appreciate football more now after last year’s lockout. Maybe it’s because I watch ESPN so often and they’re always talking about football in some capacity. Or, maybe it’s just because I’ve come to love the little nuances of the game of football that get discussed ad nauseam during the draft process . But, I sat down on my couch on Thursday night and literally didn’t move all night. And, after doing so, I’d have to say that this year’s draft was the best that I’ve ever seen.
One reason it’s improved is that the NFL did away with the rookie pay scale that was in place last year (and all the other years before it) that called for players drafted in the first round to make a boatload of money. By doing that, the trades and the wheeling-and-dealing that went on in the first round of the draft were unbelievable. And it didn’t end there. Networks like ESPN have done a good job of drilling guys’ names into our heads and showcasing tons of different draft prospects in the months, weeks, and days leading up to the drafts. So I found the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and even the seventh round just as compelling as the first. If you’re a football fan, it’s hard not to love the way the NFL has set up the draft. Other drafts are good. But, the NFL’s is the only one that feels like an event.
The league deserves a lot of credit for developing the draft into what it is today. Without some of the changes that they’ve put into place, it probably wouldn’t be anywhere near as popular as it is. But ESPN and the countless NFL analysts out there also deserve a lot of credit, too. Without their devotion to the game of football, the draft wouldn’t be what it is. And, I probably wouldn’t be as big of a fan of the draft as I am.
So, is it too early to start talking about next year’s draft?