Watching the National Football League Draft on television has become a very popular activity. The 2019 NFL Draft occurred back in April and was broadcast by five different networks: ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN Deportes and the NFL Network. An average of 6.1 million people watched the draft during its three days, as reported in a 2019   Hollywood Reporter article. 

The programming highlights the college careers of many players that are chosen. Expert commentators, including former NFL general managers, coaches and star players, predict which players will be selected by the various teams and the likelihood of a given player finding success in the NFL. A great deal of print and online media is dedicated to predicting who will be chosen in the days or weeks leading up to the NFL Draft and then later lauding or lamenting a team’s choices during the inevitable critique that follows the draft. 

The die-hard fans of a given team may become positively jubilant or nearly catatonic following the draft. This year, the New York Giants, in need of an eventual replacement for their aging star quarterback Eli Manning chose quarterback Daniel Jones from Duke University as the sixth overall player chosen in the first round of the draft. In taking Jones, the Giants passed on players who were considered by many to have been much more worthy of such a high pick. As reported in an April 26   CBS sports article , one fan did not mince words after the Giants had chosen Jones, exclaiming, “This is the worst day of my life. I feel like I’m in a bad nightmare but I keep pinching myself and it’s still real.” 

Despite this mixture of euphoria and “gnashing of teeth” that inevitably follows every NFL Draft and despite the great expertise of the general managers and scouts who are employed by teams for the purpose of assessing the skills of college players, picking players in the NFL Draft is not an exact science. College football excellence does not always correlate with NFL prowess, where players by and large are faster and stronger than college players. Tom Brady, considered by many to be the greatest professional quarterback of all time, was picked in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. As reported in an April 2019 Masslive article, among the six quarterbacks chosen before Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft, some had respectable careers but none came close to his success, and one did not even compete in a single game or attempt a single pass in the NFL.

Recent quarterbacks chosen in the first round who have already shown brilliance and who are destined to have sustained highly-successful careers include Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles. However, there are prominent examples of quarterbacks chosen in the first round who failed at the NFL level, according to a  Businessinsider April article. These include Johnny Manziel, Paxton Lynch and Matt Leinart. Manziel, who was plagued by off-the-field problems, lasted just two seasons in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns. Lynch lasted two seasons with the Denver Broncos before being released, and after sitting out the 2018 season, he was recently signed as a backup for the upcoming season with the Seattle Seahawks. Leinart lasted just four seasons as a backup for three different teams. 

Given the inherent uncertainty in predicting the potential future success of college players who are chosen as NFL Draft picks, even for experienced experts, it would certainly be logical for us fans to just sit back and casually wait to see how the players chosen by their favorite teams will perform over the next few seasons at the professional level. However, when it comes to sports, fans tend to be emotional rather than logical. They paint their faces with team colors and agonize over teams’ losses while celebrating with gusto their victories. For those fans who do not live in areas where a local NHL or NBA team is competing in the playoffs, this time of year is relatively lacking in sports drama, especially because the excitement of tight baseball pennant races is a few months off. This creates a great opportunity to satisfy professional sports craving by scrutinizing the NFL Draft. It seems that this obsession with the NFL draft that afflicts so many is a bit silly, but it is fun, and is it not all about entertainment and pleasant diversion anyway?