The National Football League is preparing for their annual draft on Thursday night in Radio City Music Hall. All 32 teams are scouring their boards looking to find the next franchise player, but the only question every team has is, who is worth the pick?
Some experts, such as ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, have called this a “weak draft” with the lack of big-time players coming from the college level. It may not be the most talented draft class, but it is certainly a high-profile group. With athletes such as Notre Dame linebacker Manti T’eo and former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu in the hunt to get drafted, the class has made headlines for reasons other than their attributions on the field.
One of the 32 teams that will look far and wide for quality future players is the New York Jets. The Jets have recently traded star cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the No. 13 pick in the draft to complement the ninth pick they already had. With two first-round picks, and a franchise that has become a laughing stock riddled with poor play and misfortunes such as the “butt fumble,” the Jets are desperately hoping to strike gold. In regards to desperation, head coach Rex Ryan may be the most desperate, as many analysts are calling this the year that will determine his job status going forward.
“I’m not worried about who we play,” Ryan told The New York Times hours after the deal for Revis was completed. “The standard we set as the New York Jets will not be diminished.”
Another team looking for a solid player in the draft is a team that shares the same state. The New York Giants are also looking for a prospect following a disappointing season in which they missed the playoffs despite winning the Super Bowl the previous year. The Giants hold the No. 19 pick in the draft and are looking to fill in the holes left by the multiple players that left in free agency. After losing core starters such as Michael Boley, Chase Blackburn and Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants need a young guy to step up and make plays, preferably on the defensive side of the ball.
“I hope they get somebody that is going to help,” said junior and long-time Giants fan Melissa Jones. “They lost way too much this year to get better without help from some new guys.”
Another big debate in the draft is which player will come out as the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday night. It seems as though every day the projected draft board changes with no clear front-runner for the top pick. The Kansas City Chiefs, who picked up quarterback Alex Smith during the offseason, hold that first pick.
After nabbing who they hope to be a franchise quarterback in Smith, the Chiefs may attempt to protect him to at least give the offense a chance. If that is the case, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could call Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel’s name first. After that, the draft board is a mess, with some players like Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib projected as either a top-five pick or as late as a second-round selection
Regardless of the chaos that ensues from the draft, it does remind football fans that the season is around the corner. The draft brings fans back into football mode, as soon after teams report to camp to start preparing for the NFL season. It may seem like a long way down the road, but football is just about back. For now though, it is time to find out the faces of the league’s future.