We were on the treadmill today, watching Mel Kiper Jr.'s gums flap away in his head, and it set us to thinking some extremely random thoughts about the NFL draft.
-First, no matter what anyone at ESPN tells me, no one makes more of less than Mel Kiper, Jr. We admire this: he's like his own little Liechtenstein, tiny, devoid of natural resources, and yet still makes it onto the map with plenty of cash in pocket.
And this is with NFL general managers, the emperors he plays Confucius to, ignoring his advice across the board. How does he make money? Just like Phil Hellmuth does: by bluffing. For that, we salute you and your indomitable helmet of hair.
Liechtenstein, the Mel Kiper Jr. of nations
-Second, though Mel as of 2001 had just a 29% accuracy rating on predicting exactly what would happen in the draft, he did call Trev Alberts a bust the instant the Colts drafted him. We call Trev that and much worse every time Mark May talks rings around him on College Gameday, so we feel like we could get along very well with Mel. (You know you despise a television figure when you resort to racial epithets to insult him...and you belong to the same race. In all seriousness, the greatest moment in television history would be Mark May choking out Trev Alberts with his own tie. Or braining him with a boom mike. Or challenging him to a game of "Connect Four" and watching Trev eat the pieces in confusion. God, we can't stand that chickenshit cracker whitebread motherfucker.) At any rate, good on Mel for recognizing his mediocrity at an early stage.
Connect Four: Would Trev eat the pieces?
-Third: we think the draft now functions for the NFL much as MBA programs work as breeding grounds for well-paid but unspectacular middle management. And in a cap-compliant league, exceptional middle management will get you a long, long way. A look at the Pats roster reflects this thinking: the whole roster sports elite names, your Michigans, Florida States, LSUs, Ohio States...but none of them are the first player you'd take off stellar college teams like the ones listed above. Economy rules the NFL. Ask Belichick, who touts utility maximization as the guiding principle for his teams' organization. Your spectacular players-who usually aren't on championship teams-come from anywhere and everywhere, from Terrell Owens (Chattanooga) to LaDanian Tomlinson (TCU) to Peyton Manning (Tennessee.) The pro logic is now draft solid second-bill talent from first-rate schools and coach them into a scheme. If anything, superstars are now a detriment to a pro team, heavy on the salary cap and often disruptive of the unity of the team as a whole.
-Fourth: this all translates to how unique a setup college football remains. Spectacular players can come together and enjoy a three or four year tenure together that usually can't occur in the NFL. (Philly, with McNabb and Owens, is clearly an exception to the trend.) Kiper can watch as much tape as he likes, but the chances of him correctly predicting who will do better one someone pays them to play the game stand at a little better than chance. And while some college players do get paid, especially if they wear crimson or orange, the perks most jocks enjoy on most campuses seem to be access to classes like "Growing Fruit for Fun and Profit" and easy sex. As someone who took "Coaching Football" for three credits once, I have little to no room to critique them for doing so. But for the most part, they're there to play football first and get an education second. And since most American kids we know put education second in college-my first priority, as far as we can remember, was playing Madden-I'll let the women and men who get up before eleven a.m. in college slide on the free sex bit, even if we had to work damn hard-and occasionally beg-to get ours.