You work hard, you enjoy the fruits of your labor. That’s what we’re taught as children and that’s the way it’s supposed to work. However, the success of the Detroit Lions last season has absolutely ruined my former favorite day of the year—NFL Draft day. The NFL Draft was my Christmas and thanks to Matt Millen’s near decade of writing the thesis on how not to run a professional football team, I became something of draft aficionado. Millen’s ineptitude came with one benefit—the Lions were always relevant in the NFL draft. Lions fans were annually assured that they wouldn’t need to wait long to see which college All-Star would adorn the Honolulu Blue and Silver the next fall as our laborious task of following the Detroit Lions offered one tiny consolation prize—a top draft pick.
The NFL Draft became a day when we could push our chests out and say, “I’m a Detroit Lions fan!” and feel proud of it—even though the rest of the country was likely laughing at the players the Lions were selecting. Each year there were a handful of guys the Lions could choose from and information about whom they could pick that early was so readily available that—if you were like me—you were left contemplating where in the top-3 the Lions would pick in Mid-December. On New Year’s you intently watched Bowl Games to see these guys in action and you tuned in to the NFL Combine in February to get a glimpse of the narrow field of likely candidates. You then went pouring over every Joe Schmo’s Mock NFL Draft on the eve of the Draft to get a consensus on who would be a Lion.
However, after a 10-6 playoff season, the excitement of the draft is completely gone. I can’t even tell you with 100% certainty which number pick the Lions had in the first round without looking it up. I’m gonna say 22 or 23, but honestly all I know is it’s far past the range of being able to predict who could be selected and really, once they are selected, who they are. I tried to watch the Combine this year—booooooring. I was left thinking, “How low were my standards as a Lions fan that watching dudes working out was a highlight of the year?” Even the Mock Drafts are useless this year. With the lack of a consensus—and a Lions front office with a tremendous poker face—it’s just a bunch of names to me. The experts’ reactions to who the Lions will pick is like when I ask my seven-year old who tracked mud in the house. “I dunno”, followed with a shrug. I listened to what these guys said last year—with the Lions picking much earlier—and was led to believe the Lions were absolutely going to take a cornerback in the first round, instead we got a guy who looks like he eats cornerbacks—munchies jokes aside. Ultimately, there’s no clue as to who will be the Lions first pick this year.
As much as I hate the NFL Draft basically being ruined for me this year as it’s a truly wonderful event when your team is relevant in it, it’s a necessary evil that comes with talent and success. It’s the way it’s supposed to be and actually a little nice that we’re perhaps finally starting to experience life like fans of a real NFL team.