By Brad Thompson–
CHICAGO (WSCR) The 2011 NFL Draft is finally here. All the measuring, timing, testing and workouts are done. It’s time to usher in a fresh, new crop of NFL superstars to a football stadium near you. Forget all the mock drafts and speculation – today college players become professionals. All that’s left to do is wait for the names to be called. Oh and hope there’s a football season.
For me the NFL Draft is always bittersweet. I love the optimism, hope and excitement that come with the draft, yet I despise the hype and drawn out speculation that surround its buildup. Unfortunately, without a collective bargaining agreement in place, this draft is lacking in excitement and hope.
Because the NFLPA and team owners can’t agree on anything, the off-season has been a total drag. No CBA means no free agency, so teams can’t improve their rosters before the draft. It also means that there will be no draft day trades that include players, only picks can be traded for other picks. This makes it harder for teams to move up or down the draft board. Limiting the moving and shaking during the draft cuts down on the excitement.
On top of that, after the draft is over the draftees will have to wait until a CBA is agreed upon, or at least until the lockout issues are legally resolved, to become part of the team. So even after a player is drafted he’s still going to have to wait to workout, meet with coaches and learn schemes. As a fan, it’s hard to get excited about the draft because you already know that this year’s rookies will be behind schedule even if there is a season.
Most years the draft is a reprieve for football fans in the middle of the NBA and NHL playoffs. The welcoming of new players and potential superstars to your team signifies hope. And no matter how poorly your team played last season, the draft is full of optimism. For fans of teams like Detroit and Cleveland, it might be the best day of the year.
Without question the lack of a CBA has taken some of the excitement away from this year’s draft. I’m going to try my best, at least for the weekend, to forget about the CBA mess. I’m going to enjoy the draft, but it just doesn’t feel right.
What do you think of the NFL Draft? Post your comments below.
Brad M. Thompson, a former college football player and coach, made his return to the Midwest in 2009 after fighting wildfires out West. He earned his master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and covers the Big Ten Conference and Chicago sports. Follow him on Twitter at @Brad_M_Thompson. Find more of Brad’s blogs here.