Apr 232009
Authors: Keith Robertson

The NFL draft makes or breaks franchises, head coaches, general managers and the delicate psyche of fans. And this weekend, the most exciting off-season event will take place, and CSU will be a part of it.

The draft is seen by most sports fans as an over-hyped, over-covered event that has little impact on teams in the upcoming season. It takes two days just to get through it. Every team takes too long to make their pick, and you can just read who your team took on Monday instead of spending two days off watching TV and cheering at a name at the bottom of the screen.

And who watches the thing? Do people really bust out college scouting reports, highlighters, draft analysis magazines, pocket protectors, draft caps, ham sandwiches and plenty of iced-tea waiting in anticipation of their favorite team’s first pick? Yes.

I do. I sit down in front of television screen with notebook dedicated to every team and analyze each pick and consequently make my predictions. Call me a nerd, a dork, a loser with no life –it’s okay, my girlfriend does, too.

This really is the most exciting NFL affair, other than the Super Bowl. The draft is like watching a stoner lost in a parking lot while looking for his car — too much fun to miss.

The draft is the glue that holds together the elementary school diorama that is an NFL football team. These two days are where a team is made — just don’t tell the Redskins.

Names like Ryan Leaf and Tony Mandarich become black eyes on franchises and late round picks like Tom Brady and Terrell Davis make GMs and coaches look like Einstein on steroids. Any player from any school, no matter how small, can be drafted and have an impact on their team, enter Joe Flacco-stage AFC Championship game.

The draft is the most important day in the NFL season. With 10 teams having new head coaches, this draft will set the precedent for how they will run their respective teams, and how fans will react to their first picks as captains at the helm of their new teams.

The belief is that only the die-hard losers who neglect their lawns in the middle of grass season have the time to spend 14 hours of a Saturday watching a guy step to a microphone or a guy hold a jersey and pose for a picture. But if that is true why do they broadcast the whole thing? Because it is DRAMA.

Radio City Music Hall is, without fail, always jam-packed full of Jets’ fans screaming and yelling — until New York makes their pick.

Then an echoing “boo” comes from the spectators. At home, the same is true.

Fans look at each other in disbelief at the pick just made and fly to the internet to research the guy they’ve never heard of taken 42nd overall (Eddie Royal, for instance). Excitement that lasts all day.

There really is nothing more thrilling than a team trading up, which at least a few will, to get a guy out of nowhere. Or what about a disgruntled player being shown the door for a late rounder like Randy Moss or Javon Walker? (Look for Chad Ocho Cinco and Anquan Boldin this year) These moves make some teams competitive and other look like idiots — but always make the viewer do a double take.

But if sheer entertainment is not enough for the average football fan to tune in, I have a little extra incentive for you.

CSU will have at least two players selected in this year’s draft. Last year no player from the green and gold went in the draft, although some CSU alums found homes in the NFL, Caleb Hanie is backing up Jay “The Baby” Cutler. The last CSU player selected was Clint Oldenburg in 2007, just to provide some perspective.

This year, running back Gartrell Johnson and tight end Kory Sperry are expecting to get phone calls letting them know they have been selected — although you might have to wait until the second day to share in their enthusiasm.

Johnson projects as a fourth round guy, according to “Sporting News,” because of his lack of speed, but NFL scouts are looking hard at his power and size. Sperry may have to sweat it out like Dave Anderson did in 2006, when he was taken 251st overall, but probably not as long.

After recording a high score in almost every event at this year’s combine, Sperry’s stock went up, and even though “Sporting News” had him going in the seventh, he may go as high as the fifth. His incredible catches in his time as a Ram, along with his size, skyrocketed him on draft boards.

The draft is a two-day, seven-round, over-analyzed piece of great television, and I hope that you will be watching; I know Johnson and Sperry will be — and so will I.

If you don’t, you can read or see what happened a little later, but your sharpies, ham sandwiches, draft magazines and iced-tea will be just as lonely as Mel Kiper Jr. is Monday morning.

Sports writer Keith Robertson can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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