The NFL Player Draft for 2014 is history and 256 young men know where they will be heading to try to continue their football careers and make some money doing it. There will be more players reporting to training camps as free agents hoping to have someone be willing to say the team should take a chance on giving them a shot. I have a great deal of respect for these people and all they have to go through to chase their dream of playing pro football.
I don’t follow the draft as closely as hardcore fans do, I simply don’t have the time to invest. I do know that this year, as always, players moved up and down on teams draft list and not always for reasons that are immediately obvious to novice fans or long time insiders either. One of the marquee players in this years draft was former Texas A&M quarterback, Johnny Manziel. At one time thought to be a top 5 pick, he slid to the number 22 spot when finally taken by the Cleveland Browns. Also in this years draft was Michael Sam who became famous last year for announcing his sexual preference. He was taken late in the 7th round by the St. Louis Rams. Another big name, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron slid all the way down to the fifth round before his name was called by the Cincinnati Bengals. He proved himself on the football field leading the Crimson Tide to back-to-back national titles, one of only 7 player to accomplish that feat. To some he is as well known because of his on-again off-again girlfriend and now fiancee, Katherine Webb a former Miss Alabama USA and Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Also making news was the Texas Longhorns football team, which for the first time since 1937 did not have a single player taken in the draft.
One team I will be keeping an eye on will be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They completed the first completely offensive draft in team history. No, nothing bad, just all of the players they chose play on offense. Their final pick was Robert Herron from the University of Wyoming. Mr. Herron is a speed merchant trying to catch on at the slot receiver position as well as a kick-off returner. Also in camp will be the quarterback he played with at Wyoming, Brett Smith. Mr. Smith is one of those young men who never got the call during the draft and now must face the uphill battle as a free agent. Mr. Smith came out of college a year early and many have panned his decision to forego his senior season and a chance to play for Wyoming’s new head coach Craig Bohl who is bringing a pro-style offensive scheme to Laramie next season.
A lot of coaches and front office people have made important decisions already and will be making judgments that will be life changing for many young men. Unfortunately not all of the decisions will be the right ones which will hurt their teams but more to the point the decisions will hurt players who will see their chance to play football ended. It isn’t easy for anyone and I wish them all the best no matter how training camps go. For those who don’t make the final cut and don’t move on to another league I sincerely hope they made use of their time in college to get the education that was offered to them and can move on to life after football.
As fans I’m afraid we sometimes forget that our favorite teams are made up of real people. Some of them are great individuals and some of them are, well, not great individuals. But most of them are people who go to work every day trying their best and then read and hear fans referring to them as bums and worthless losers when things don’t go right. Sometimes fans need to Think, Then Think Again.
And to Johnny, Michael, AJ, Robert, Brett and all of the others heading off to chase their dreams I wish you all good health and best of luck. Give it your all and in the end be satisfied that you did your best.
Oh, I must have forgotten, good luck to Lonnie as well. For those who don’t follow football that much, as the last player drafted he becomes Mr. Irrelevant. Hope he proves them wrong.