Reflecting on the NFL draft

By Nathan Barillari
Managing Editor

At the end of April every year since 2006, I have stopped everything that I’m doing in vorder to turn my attention to what is equivalent to Christmas for me–at least in the world of sports. Living in Buffalo, I’ve never been able to see the Bills make it into January and February to play meaningful football games, so the closest I can see the team come to glory is through the NFL Draft.

 

During the Draft, anything is possible; there’s so much potential out there just waiting to be fulfilled as fans from their respective teams watch these players grow or, in many cases, falter. The Draft gives fans of teams like the Bills or the Browns a reason to be hopeful; too bad most of that hope is gone by mid-November.

 

I can vaguely remember my first Draft; there were the memories of hoping for Vince Young to fall to the Bills and then being upset when they passed on Matt Leinart to draft some safety from Ohio State that I never heard of named Donte Whitner. I remember trading back into the first round to draft John McCargo (bust) and taking Kyle Williams with the pick the Bills got for Eric Moulds–at the time, Moulds was one of my favorite players so I was still a little broken up to see him playing for the Texans.

 

For every year after that I would go back and forth between my friend’s house and my own to watch all the rounds of the Draft. In a couple of those years my friend even created an elaborate Mel Kiper-esque “Big Board” which highlighted all of the best players by position and overall ranking. We even invited others to come to our Draft party under the condition that they were able to construct a competent Mock Draft–nobody else ever came, we were very strict on these rules.

 

One of my favorite memories comes from the 2007 Draft; the Bills had already selected two “cornerstones” in Marshawn Lynch and Paul Posluszny, and when they were on the board in the third round they selected Quarterback Trent Edwards in what was considered to be a huge value move at the time; my friend was so ecstatic that he kissed the top of my head, but we all know how that move turned out.

 

Fast-forward to today and the whole process isn’t quite as crazy for me; I don’t make Mock Drafts or “Big Boards”, and I don’t even watch it with my old friend anymore. Instead I watched the first round this year in the same place as I did last year: The Griffin’s office in the basement of the Richard E. Winter ‘42 Student Center while working on this story and a bunch of others.

 

This year I’m attempting to juggle my new responsibilities at the office while trying my very best to enjoy one of my favorite days of the year. I’m hopeful that while I sit at my desk going back and forth from editing stories and occasionally checking Twitter for any rumors that there won’t be any ruined surprises on my Facebook Timeline.

 

In the past ESPN and NFL Network had a bad habit of showing players crying on the phone before they got picked which essentially telegraphed the pick and took away all the surprise of the selection.

 

This got even worse last year when Adam Schefter would announce the next three picks on Twitter. I started to wonder how I was supposed to enjoy the Draft when I could stay on Twitter and get all the results before the announcement. I could’ve stayed off of Twitter, but for those who are obsessed as I am, I think that’s a little too much to ask.

Aside from Jason LaCanfora, I found that the media followed up on its promise to not reveal picks before they happen – something that made my Draft experience much better.

 

I think a lot of people fail to understand the true value of the Draft; even as I write this I find it hard to understand why it’s as good as it is, but quite simply, it just is. From a Buffalo perspective, this Draft, with a new head coach in place, especially signifies a start of a new era and a chance to start over.

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