The NFL Draft: The Time For Talking…

Illustration by Kagan McLeod

An hour before Houston went on the clock for the 2014 NFL draft, the camera pulled in on Rich Eisen, the face of NFL Network. “Soon, the time for talking will be over…” he said, and then paused, before finishing his thought the only way he could: “… and the time for talking will keep going.”

Eisen had stumbled upon a perfect slogan for the National Football League off-season: The Time For Talking Will Keep Going.

So much talk. And this year, with a later draft, there’s even more time for observers and experts and the guy at your work who once went to a Falcons game to analyze the skill, athleticism, character, moxie, posture, credit score, haircut, Netflix queue, list of fears and favourite Baldwin of college football’s best players.

Sometimes, the talk was portrayed as urgent. We were told a correspondent at Texans HQ had breaking news. “Very calm, everybody’s walking back and forth between the café and the draft room,” he reported. Thanks a ton, Scoopy McExclusive! We’ll come back to you if a scout eats a bear claw.

(For the record, I can no longer watch ESPN’s draft coverage. Chris Berman is prone to weird pauses. And Mel Kiper is clearly on the verge of going all Transcendence on us—uploading his consciousness into a supercomputer so he can perform an infinite number of mock drafts with salon-perfect hair for all eternity.)

NFL Network boasted that it had cameras in 16 draft war rooms around the league. At one point, it showed nine of these feeds on the screen at once, which was super thrilling if you’re really into male sitting.

The only war room worthy of a video feed was that of the Dallas Cowboys: owner Jerry Jones positioned in the centre of it all; coach Jason Garrett to his right with a look on his face that said, “If I remain perfectly still, maybe Jerry won’t ask me for another blood transfusion”; various flunkies, a Smithers or two; and then one guy off on his own, slumped in a chair in the back corner. What was this guy’s story? Did he forget to bring the chips and dip? Jerry doesn’t like it when you forget the draft dip.

This was the first time the NFL let its draft picks choose their own walk-up music. Several guys went with Drake. A couple picked Kanye. Johnny Manziel chose a song that has his name in it because: modesty. But it was more fun to imagine a world in which NFL Films went back and edited in music over footage of the sport’s more notorious selections, such as Ryan Leaf (The Beatles’ “I Should Have Known Better”), Charles Rogers (the Benny Hill theme) and JaMarcus Russell (sad trombone).

For random weirdness, it was hard to top the shot of Phil from Modern Family sitting silently at the Rams’ draft table. Was this a promotional opportunity gone awry? Was it a hint that the Rams were going to draft only fictional characters? (“With the second pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams select: that huge dude with metal teeth from Moonraker.”)

Whatever the case, it’s a trend the league should build on—and there should be a hierarchy to it: an A-list movie star sitting with the Patriots, a solid character actor with the Bears, and at the Jaguars’ table, the deer that peed in Adam Sandler’s face in Grown Ups 2.

The biggest surprise of the first round was Jacksonville using the third pick on Blake Bortles, who is either a QB or one of the kids who got lost in Willy Wonka’s factory. It wasn’t long until Michael Irvin, the former Cowboys receiver, was getting a little misty: “You’re watching this guy’s dream manifest into its physical reality.” Hang on, so what you’re saying is that maybe Johnny Manziel is… getting Inceptioned?? It’s not real, Johnny! Your subconscious doesn’t have to go to Cleveland! WAKE UP, JOHNNY FOOTBALL!!

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.