The draft is the end of the road for collegiate players, the point of transition to the somewhat soulless pro game and a life of abundant cash, endless casual sex with beautiful partners, and an obligatory segment on Cribs where you show off your improbably expensive house that, for all the money put into it, resembles a baby La Quinta hotel.
The Tampa Airport La Quinta? Or Randy Moss's new house? Or both?
What the hell does this mean for the college game? Plenty.
the draft is a litmus test for collegiate programs in several senses. It provides a good indicator of which programs are not only recruiting the best talent, but are also grooming and developing that talent in-program. The draft is also a very accurate indicator of how "collegiate" a team's schemes and systems are; pro compatible systems-see Miami and Nebraska under Bill Callahan-may help indecisive recruits decide between rivals. Conversely, talented players entering the draft from option systems or eccentric schemes (calling Mike Leach) face an uphill battle in scouts' eyes, often switching positions as Matt Jones did in this year's combine, or signing up as undrafted free agents and hoping against hope to make a pro roster in training camp.
All of this makes a huge difference on the recruiting trail, especially in Sun Belt states like Florida, Texas, and California where the year-round competition between schools leading up to signing day can get savage. So who came out of this year's draft smelling like the sweet scent of steak and lobster at a nearly illegal recruiting junket? And who didn't?
Winners: "More Lobster, Please..."
No contest for the biggest winner here: Auburn, a team in shambles a year ago, comes out of the draft looking like an NFL clone factory with four first-round picks. After a solid 2004 draft and this one, Auburn has a lot to brag on in the Magnolia State recruiting sweepstakes and beyond the state lines. Oklahoma didn't have quite the first round dominance Auburn did, but we'll forgive them for only getting six players drafted the first day and eleven players overall. (Jason White, the Amazing Kneeless QB, was not among them.) Florida State had a pair of first-rounders with nine players taken overall in the draft, if you happen to count Adrian McPherson, who majored in creative finance at FSU before getting kicked out and starring in the Arena League. We'll count it as eight, still a stellar total by any standard. Iowa, once bottom-dwellers of the Big Ten, sent five to the bigs in a down year. Wisconsin had seven picks, continuing Barry Alvarez's string of impressive draft classes. Finally, Utah sent five players, including a steal for Tampa Bay in the seventh round with Paris Warren, a tall, crafty receiver who could thrive in Gruden's dinky possession passing game.
Losers: "Um, did you know the guys at the other school are all gay? Regular Kansas City faggots,dude..."
Texas. Two first-rounders, sure; but only a sixth-rounder after that, and an indication that while Mack Brown may be a crack recruiter, he doesn't make as much of his talent as he could. Ditto for the defunct Ron Zook era at Florida, which produced the worst draft class for the school in ages. Tennessee also produced a weak draft class: no first rounders, with only three players selected overall, an aberration for a school that along with Miami has been a primo NFL shopping ground. If Auburn played Neiman Marcus in this year's draft, Alabama was its Big Lots: only four players selected overall, with no first-rounders and little quality in those taken.