I can’t wait for the NFL draft. The next 10 days can’t go by fast enough for me. There are two reasons: First, I love the draft, seeing who goes where and figuring out how they’ll impact their new teams; Second, I won’t have to listen to my sports media colleagues go on and on about the draft and sound dumber and dumber.

Draft talk sends the old saying “Much ado about nothing” into another solar system. Such criticism won’t endear me to my colleagues, but I’ve always considered myself a bit of an outsider in my own profession anyway. If that comes across as being arrogant, so be it.

Every day for weeks I’ve read and heard analysts and commentators going on and on about how smart or stupid or boring this or that draft pick will be. I’ve seen most of the mock drafts and watched as they are constantly changed. All of this, of course, is going on while very little changes. Sure, I understand a certain player may have an incredible workout and his stock could rise. Or the reverse. Another athlete may blow away a team in an interview and improve his position. Or the reverse.

But is an NFL team really going to spend months scouting a player and hours evaluating a player on tape and then ignore all of that because of one workout or interview? Team GMs, coaches and scouts can’t be that dumb, can they?

I do see the entertainment side of the draft buildup. Fans want to hear and read about it and the media would be foolish ignore its audience. If an analyst didn’t change his mock draft, who’d watch and read him?

Still, when I hear some talking head ranting about how bad or boring it is for the Jaguars to select defensive end Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue, I wonder if he can hear himself talking.

Let me list the things we know about the draft BEFORE IT HAPPENS:

1. NFL generals and coaches not only leak misleading information about which players they’re interested in, they actually leak lies. They go to great lengths to confuse not only the media, but other teams as well. The Buffalo Bills, for example, probably are interested in a quarterback with the third overall pick. You can book it that they aren’t above leaking negative and incorrect information about Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, generally regarded as the top two QB prospects. Anything, you understand, to confuse the Carolina Panthers, who have the No. 1 pick and are also reportedly interested in taking a QB.

2. The needs of most teams are obvious. The Jaguars’ pass rush has been anemic. Drafting a rush end or outside linebacker make sense. And, too, the Jags haven’t drafted a QB since ’03 and have an average QB in David Garrard. The Minnesota Vikings don’t have a starting QB on their roster. The Pittsburgh Steelers are concerned about their cornerback play. You get the point.

3. Based on what they did in college and their pro potential, it isn’t difficult to rate the various positions and the players at those positions. Of course, there’s a lot of guesswork involved. That’s why Tom Brady evolved from a sixth-round pick to a sure-fire hall of famer. That’s why undrafted players sometimes go on to have long careers. That’s why you have first-round busts. Still, the pecking order is pretty well set.

4. It only takes one surprise draft pick or one trade to shake up the projected order. Who knows how the draft changed last year when the Jaguars surprised nearly everyone, including most GMs, by taking defensive tackle Tyson Alaulau with the 10th pick?

Beyond those things we know very little.

Several mock drafts have the Jaguars taking Kerrigan with the 16th pick. Like I said, they do need pass rushing help. Pass rushers, I think, rate behind only QBs in importance in today’s NFL. This draft class is loaded with highly-regarded pass rushers. UNC’s Robert Quinn, Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn, Cal’s Cameron Jordan, Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt, Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers and Kerrigan are projected to be the best of the group. All have flaws, but their upside is high. Based on the needs of the teams drafting ahead of the Jaguars, its reasonable see Kerrigan coming to Jacksonville. He also fits the profile preferred by Jags GM Gene Smith: High character, good student, leader (team captain). What we don’t know about the Jaguars is how veteran DE Aaron Kampman’s rehab from knee surgery is going; how much progress Austin Lane and Larry Hart have made since their rookie seasons.

Imagine similar situations with 31 other NFL teams. Then remember how off the mark mock drafts have been traditionally.

Now debate with your buddies who your teams should draft. Argue who they should draft.

Then expect to be surprised.


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