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Armour: Snap Judgments not Wise During NFL Draft

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The Chicago Bears drafted North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Photo: MATT ROURKE/AP

Rational thinking is in short supply this week.

For the next few days, there will be wild statements made with no basis in fact. Knee-jerk responses that will be cringe-worthy in the not-too-distant future. Questionable decisions by some otherwise very intelligent people.

Yes, it’s the NFL draft! What, you thought I was referring to something else?

It’s no secret fans lose their objectivity when it comes to their favorite team, and there’s no better example of that than the draft — the NFL draft in particular. Despite all of the workouts, all of the scouting, all of the evaluations, it is little more than a crap shoot.

Sure, Myles Garrett, Leonard Fournette or Mitchell Trubisky might turn out to be as good as advertised, a player who can carry a franchise for the better part of a decade. Taywan Taylor and Jordan Morgan might become the latest small-school gems unearthed in the middle rounds.

But there’s no way to know. Not yet, anyway.

If past years have taught us anything, it’s that where you were drafted is no guarantee of your success. Just ask Ryan Leaf and Tony Mandarich, No. 2 overall picks who can lay equal claim to the title of biggest bust ever.

Or Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe, a seventh-round pick who retired as the all-time leader in catches, yards and touchdowns by a tight end. Better yet, see how that sixth-round thing worked out for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

You might have to wait a few months, however. They’re still busy celebrating that fifth Super Bowl title they won in epic fashion in February.

Despite knowing all of this — no draft is complete without a recounting of Aaron Rodgers’ green room fall or Leaf’s flameout — fans still lose touch with reality the minute a draft pick is announced. It’s become almost a Pavlovian response to the words, “With the X-number pick, the (insert name of your favorite team here) select …” If fans are happy with the pick, he is the second coming of Peyton Manning or J.J. Watt.

Actually, scratch that. Houston Texans fans weren’t too thrilled when the team used the 11th overall pick on Watt in 2011.

Not only did fans boo Watt’s selection at the team’s draft party, they quickly took to social media to blast the pick. Several simply said, “Boooooo” — the level of their unhappiness measured in capital letters and exclamation points — while others groused that it was a “terrible pick” and “another stupid choice.” There also was a significant contingent irritated because they’d been hoping the Texans would take Prince Amukamara, instead.

For those not up to speed on the doings of the 2011 draft class, Watt is a three-time NFL defensive player of the year who finished second in MVP voting in 2015 while Amukamara is on his third team.

Two years later, Dallas fans booed the selection of Travis Frederick, believing the Cowboys wasted a first-round pick on a middle-round guy. Now, of course, they love the stalwart center. Funny how starting every game in your first four seasons can change people’s opinions.

Eagles fans booed Donovan McNabb because, well, they’re Eagles fans. And they wanted Ricky Williams. What’s that old saying, be careful what you wish for?

When the draft was in New York, Jets fans used to pack the place just so they could jeer their team’s picks. Good, bad, indifferent — it didn’t matter. They even booed Darrelle Revis, though not with quite the same enthusiasm they had for, say, Kyle Brady.

Even as the draft has gone on the road, to Chicago the previous two years and now Philadelphia, Jets fans have kept their derisive tradition alive. In fairness, it might be the only fun they have all year and, more often than not, the team brass gives them good reason.

But getting worked up about draft picks, either in excitement or irritation, is as big a waste of time as the draft itself. (Seriously, three days for this? They used to be able to whip through 12 rounds in two days.) First-round pick or Mr. Irrelevant, it is far too soon to pass judgment on their worth and, if you do, odds are good you will wind up regretting it.

Except for those folks booing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Everyone knows exactly what they’re getting with him.

By Nancy Armour

This article was republished with permission from the original author and 2015 Ronald Reagan Media Award recipient, Nancy Armour, and the original publisher, USA Today. Follow columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.

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