The NFL Draft is just one day away and it might be one of the least hyped in years. Maybe it has more to do with my own TV viewing habits, but I can’t remember a draft that seemed to have less fanfare leading up to its opening round. The star power just isn’t there, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t impact players to be had.
There could also be a lack of local interest because it’s almost a certainty that no University of Hawaii players are going to hear their name called. Since the 2011 NFL Draft that featured three UH offensive weapons all enjoying that honor (Alex Green, RB, Packers, third round; Greg Salas, WR, Rams, fourth round; Kealoha Pilares, WR, Panthers, fifth round), just two Rainbow Warriors have been selected in the past five drafts. Linebacker Aaron Brown was a seventh-round selection in 2012 and running back Joey Iosefa was a seventh-round pick in 2015.
Player development through the Norm Chow era didn’t produce much in the form of pro prospects, but that could change over the next few seasons. Success breeds confidence and more wins would mean more eyes on UH talent from the NFL. If Nick Rolovich continues to bring Hawaii success on the scoreboard, some of his players should reap the benefits by playing on Sunday.
But without those prospects this year and without the marquee names, is there much to care about from this NFL Draft? The most well-known of what could even passively be considered household names expected to go early would be LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.
I think Fournette is a can’t-miss star, but it’s always questionable to use a high pick on a running back. The Cowboys disavowed that notion last year by taking Ezekiel Elliot with the fourth pick and he immediately became, perhaps, the best running back in the NFL. But the league is more pass-heavy than ever and running backs have short shelf lives. Fournette has always had ankle issues, so will a team be enamored with his likeness to Herschel Walker and grab him early anyway?
As for Watson, he might be the first quarterback taken. But even that’s no sure thing.
The rest of the highly regarded signal callers are not at all high profile. Mitchell Trubisky (North Carolina), Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech), DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame), Josh Dobbs (Tennessee) and Nathan Peterman (Pittsburgh) are the rest of the quarterbacks in this year’s class who should go within the first three or four rounds. There is no Jared Goff or Carson Wentz debate like in 2016, or the Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota dilemma like in 2015. It’s possible none of them go in round one.
If you want to throw running back Christian McCaffrey in with Fournette and Watson, those are really the only three skill position players of note. This draft is long on defensive talent and heavy on Alabama players (what else is new?) but there isn’t that sizzle like years past.
I just hope something interesting happens. Maybe Jerry Jones will show up with Chris Christie by his side and the pair will start signing memorabilia using Eli Manning’s signature. Then Eli and Peyton will challenge Jones and Christie to a tag-team match at SummerSlam.
I mean, the Pats were down 28-3 and won the Super Bowl two weeks after Donald Trump became President of the United States. We’re in the age where anything can happen.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.