NFL draft party begins |

NFL draft party begins

Sports Geek
Jeff Sauer
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jeff Sauer

Somewhere on the most annoying voices of all time list, sandwiched in between Fran Drescher and Edith Bunker, is Mel Kiper Jr.

Not that the draft guru doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He does, for the most part. It’s just that his rapid-fire smugness makes the NFL draft process excruciatingly painful on the ears.

Regardless, Thursday night’s first round is still must-watch television for college and pro football geeks. The draft continues with rounds two through seven on Friday and Saturday, and by the time it wraps up, 253 professional careers (good and bad) will be launched from the stage at Radio City Music Hall.

If there’s one proven blueprint for success in professional football, it’s the draft. If you draft well, you win ball games. It’s not a secret that teams that are intellectually savvy in the front office are the same teams collecting the hardware down on the field.

Case in point: The last three Super Bowl champions (Saints, Packers and Giants) have drafted remarkably well over the past five years according to studies that include boom-and-bust picks, late-round steals and drafted player performance in wins and losses. The same study also uses an overall draft position point value system to reward or penalize teams accordingly.

Conversely, the bottom three teams in the same 2006-2011 study (Bengals, Redskins and Bills) have been stuck in mediocrity for years.

So why is it that some teams consistently out-draft other teams year in and year out?

There is such an overload of information on players entering the draft that it’s inexcusable not to do your homework and get it right more often than not.

Heck, even couch potatoes like me can go online and find important scouting information like which wide receivers “eat the cushion quickly” or “get impatient stemming corners.”

Or find reports that praise linebackers for creating “splash plays while attacking downhill.”


And then there’s the Wonderlic Test.

Fifty multiple choice questions in 12 minutes for every player that goes to the combine. A score of 20 is considered good. This year’s No.1 cornerback prospect and surefire top five pick – Morris Claiborne of LSU – apparently scored a four.

Take the test yourself and see how you fare. You might not be as bright as you think you are.

I’m not even sure the test is relevant to football. Two of the best players drafted last year scored terribly – A.J. Green (10) and Patrick Peterson (nine).

Nailing the draft is about evaluating talent and making sure you don’t get guys that are going to have character issues.

Draftniks like Kiper don’t always get it right, either.

Remember, he’s the guy that had Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen ranked as the fourth-best player available in the 2010 draft, only to see teams pass him by until the 48th pick. Clausen now serves as Cam Newton’s backup in Carolina, and he may never be a starter in the NFL again.

And yes, Clausen does have some character issues to go along with his lack of talent.

The entire NFL schedule came out a few days ago, but some of the most important dates on the calendar aren’t on it. They’re coming up this week. Hopefully your favorite team is prepared to make the right picks.

Jeff Sauer is a longtime western Colorado resident and former Roaring Fork Valley resident. He can be reached at

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