Watching the Arizona Cardinals draft as a non-college fan
By Erich Becker
Can you be excited about who the Arizona Cardinals will draft when you don’t know a single college football player?
This is the time of year when you listen to sports radio and national broadcasts, talking heads and analysis on players you’ve never heard of. Well, some of us have never heard of, others may be so enthralled in the next few weeks that they’re foaming at the mouth thinking about who is going to enter the league.
Let me preface this by saying, yes, it is my job to know who these players are, but I see it as my efforts are better spent when I see who my team has actually drafted, and then I’ll focus on those six to eight players that I’ll be talking about, writing about, and calling for in the preseason when I want them to sack Mark Sanchez or beat up on Brock.
The draft season for a non-college football fan is just as exciting, but from the pro level you’re looking at positions and how you can make your team better. Mock Drafts are great, they give you some perspective on how a team will draft, and most of them are never right, but if you see a lot of experts picking a cornerback or pass rush or offensive line at a certain position, then you really have to wonder if your team may go down that path.
There are always surprises in what a team will do, and there are gimmes as well. But with one strike of the ENTER key everything can change in an instant. Look at what the Eagles did today when trading with the Browns for the second overall pick. Are the Eagles looking at drafting a QB of the future? Finding away to taunt Chip Kelly once and for all, or just leaping up to get someone they know won’t be there in the mid-first round that they really, really, really want. And you really have to want them to give up as much as you did to move up.
Maybe part of the fun is not knowing who these guys are and then learning about them on draft night. I’ll be honest, it is more exciting when you’re team has a lot of holes and you are willing to see what they can do to fill them. In the Arizona Cardinals case, they’ve addressed most of the holes in the offseason, but there are still deficiencies in the roster that needs addressing. The one thing that Steve Keim is good at is planning for the future.
Carson Palmer has two to three years left. There, I said it, and maybe one more exceptional year like last season. I could be wrong (wouldn’t be the first time) but I could also be right and unless we want to go back to the 2009 season and look at the transition from a retiring Kurt Warner to the dumpster fire that was the QB position for years, it is time for the Arizona Cardinals to seriously start looking at a QB.
But I don’t know who any of them are, I couldn’t name one that doesn’t play for Arizona State, and even then Mike Bercovici isn’t going to be drafted on the first day, or the second day of the draft.
So why is the draft fun if you don’t know who anyone is, and you only care about position?
Because the NFL has done a great job in making this a prime-time, must view event, seeing how each team drafts and seeing their hopes and dreams put into the hands of a 20something player fresh out of college is exciting and scary at the same time. Learning about these players is all in good fun, but knowing how high a guy can jump, or any of the other information from the Combine is just, “meh” information for a hardcore NFL fan, at least this one.
I want to know what kind of offense he played in, did he play in the pocket or did he run, was there always an option or was it a dropback passer. Completion percentage, interceptions, hard line stats are important, against viable teams. To learn that a pass rusher had 25 sacks, but half of those were in two games against teams that finished 2-8 is not something that impresses.
Context is important, and that’s why I can’t get too excited about college football players until they’re on my team and I see them at OTAs and at camp, they haven’t done anything for me lately, and they haven’t done anything for the Arizona Cardinals at this level. Ask me again in August.