We’re a mere three days away from the beginning of the NFL Draft, and by this point Detroit’s options have been discussed ad nauseam, and the rest of the guys here at SLR have done a fantastic job covering the draft from every possible angle. So instead of arguing about the potential merits of Da’Quan Bowers, or whether Jimmy Smith is worth the character risk, or if Prince Amukamara could possibly fall to the Lions, I’m going to run down my top five reasons I love the draft.
If there’s any group of fans that should absolutely hate the draft and everything that comes with it, it’s Lions fans, who had to watch as Matt Millen turned talent misevaluation into an art form during his eight seasons as GM. But every year, even during the Millen era, I couldn’t help but get excited when April rolled around, having convinced myself each time that this was the year Detroit would land that franchise player. This leads right into my first reason, so I’ll start the countdown here:
- Hope — Hope can be a crazy, irrational thing, and it’s likely the one feeling that keeps us Lions fans coming back for more, despite the seemingly-inevitable disappointment each season brings. No event on the NFL calendar symbolizes hope as much as the draft, where the spotlight turns from the league’s elite teams and their star players to the cellar-dwellars and the college players who could become those stars. For fans of teams like the Lions, Browns, Bengals, and Raiders, this is often the high point of the year, where the past season is forgotten and the fortunes of future teams are pinned on the franchise’s new top-five pick. Many a season, this is our Super Bowl.
- Anticipation — This goes hand-in-hand with hope, but I think is a slightly different category. The hope is that your team will pick the player you want, or that the player your team drafts lives up to the hype and more. The anticipation is sitting in front of your TV on Thursday, waiting through each agonizing second as the clock ticks down to Detroit’s pick. When other teams pick, you pray that they don’t select your guy (this year, I will throw things if any team besides the Lions selects Amukamara). When the Lions are on the clock, you wait with sweat-drenched hands and your go-to nervous tic, this time hoping you hear that player’s name called. This process is often more exciting than watching Lions games themselves, and in a way, you’re watching something that’s potentially far more important that one regular-season game.
- The suits — While the NFL doesn’t quite have the sartorially-challenged history of the NBA when it comes to spectacularly bad draft-day suits, let’s just say there’s always one or two that will get your attention.
- The green room schadenfreude/player reactions — If you’re a college football fan like me, you usually have a certain amount of familiarity with the players who are invited to the draft. Let’s just say that as a sophomore student at Michigan in 2007, I got a lot of joy out of watching Brady Quinn’s face as he plummeted to the bottom of the first round. On the flip side, it’s always great to watch a prospect pick up his cell phone, see his face light up, and witness a moment of pure elation as he hugs his family and makes his way to shake the commissioner’s hand. It’s a rare look at the more personal side of a football player, and there’s usually at least one reaction that will make your day.
- The fan reactions — In lieu of making you read more, here’s the fantastic compilation video of Jets fans reacting to their team’s picks, just in case you haven’t watched it lately:
This weekend will be an exciting one for the Lions, and I hope you enjoy watching the draft as much as I do — it goes beyond caring about the future fortunes of your team and into the realm of fantastic entertainment.