My son, Adam Kemp, is an avid football fan, and I asked him to write us a blog about the recent draft. I love football, too, and I hope you enjoy his thoughts.
Once a year the National Football League gathers to expand their membership, and to welcome young men from around the country to the club. This year the Draft became international when the Minnesota Vikings use the 180th pick on Moritz Boehringer, a WR from Germany.
Today he became the first rookie to sign a deal. Boehringer had a good reason. He must show proof of employment to obtain a work visa. Many consider the 22-year-old’s journey to the NFL the biggest story on the last day of the draft. But his story wasn’t the only one of note this past weekend. Prognosticators and experts around the country have spent the months since the Super Bowl analyzing and measuring and predicting the success of college kids as they transition to professional game.
Things are much different in the NFL than in college. First there are 128 FBS ( Football Bowl Subdivision ) schools, formerly Division One, in addition to 125 FCS ( Football Championship Subdivision ) schools, formerly Division Two. Combined that is over 18,000 college football players, all competing for roster spots on the 32 professional teams. Consider this, if every NFL team’s roster were empty, the teams would need 1,700 players, that’s roughly 9% of the pool of college players. Of course none of the rosters are in fact empty so the percentage goes down further. Second the quality of the individual players are greater in the NFL. They are the best of the best and the competition is fierce. A WR from North Dakota State may be the best player at his school but wouldn’t make the team at LSU.
So the odds of realizing the dream of playing in the NFL are small, but it’s the dream, none the less, of almost every one of those 18,000 young men. This weekend 224 college football players took the first and the biggest step toward achieving that goal.
Teams trade veteran players to acquire additional picks, and thus more chances to add the best of the best college players to their rosters. I never understood the fascination of professional teams with unproven commodities that are college football players. College football players are drafted based on potential. Why teams are so willing to trade proven commodities for chances to draft potential ones blows my mind. With so many college players not living up their perceived potential, why is so much faith placed on these young men? Scouting the college players and judging that potential is not an exact science.
Remember back 1998 when the league and the experts disagreed on which of the 2 top QBs would grow and develop into a legitimate starter in the NFL. Those 2 QBs were Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. If you are wondering who was Ryan Leaf, then you get my point. Perhaps the best indication of the uncertainty that comes with picking players based on perceived potential is Tom Brady. Drafted in 2000, this 4 time Super Bowl winning QB was drafted in the 6th round. That year 6 QBs were drafted ahead of Brady, and I bet you can’t name them any of them. His success and Hall of Fame career is especially noteworthy considering he was, according to most experts, the worst QB ever to attend the Combine, which is a yearly event where most of the top college football prospects are invited to be tested, measured, and timed in multiple drills.
Now that the 2016 NFL draft is concluded, experts have given each of the 32 teams a grade of the team’s choices. The Cleveland Browns and the Jacksonville Jaguars sit atop of the list with grades of A, and the Atlanta Falcons scored the lowest grade with a D. Time will tell if the experts are right, if the players chosen live up the hype and achieve the success predicted. The teams wager millions of dollars on their choices. Those young men who walked across the stage and hugged the commissioner will soon ink contracts instantly making some of them millionaires. For many it will be the only contract they sign.