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Hobbs Column: Draft usually makes mockery of experts

Last Modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 10:02 AM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

I’m as guilty as you are. I’m a sucker for those mock NFL drafts that litter the Internet these days.

They can vary widely, but each one just looks so authoritative on its own — particularly when they have flashy graphics accompanying them — that you fall for it every time.

So this is the way it’s going to go, the final word.

It’s like watching LSU air it out recklessly in the spring game — you have to keep slapping your face, reminding yourself that this is make-believe.

Long before the first round is over, most of those mock drafts will be mocking you. They will look as tattered and disheveled as your NCAA tournament bracket heading into the Sweet 16.

I think there must be a clause in NFL contracts that any personnel director caught reading one is facing grounds for firing.

They never seem to pay any attention to the media experts and random bloggers who have studied this thing as their life’s work.

Evidently, it’s not an exact science, but modern technology has evolved to the point you can generally expect, barring last-minute trading up or down, for the experts to mock their way through the first two or three picks without incident. Then the hay hits the fan and throws everything out of kilter and into a massive free-for-all.

I used to watch the whole thing, hopelessly addicted to Mel Kiper trying to figure out the Jets’ and the Eagles’ missteps.

Now, not so much. The entertainment value is pretty well limited to the last young man standing (squirming, actually) back in the green room, still under 24-hour TV watch.

This is reality TV worth watching.

At the start, there will be upwards of 20-something young studs smiling confidently back there, the chosen few BMOCs in their own version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

There will be no losers in this version, but there are some delectable anxious moments worth waiting for as the herd is thinned.

It begins in all jocularity, high-testosterone mingling, each waiting his turn, grinning confidently as one, then another, has his name called, gets a pat on the back from his select brotherhood and is ushered out to shake hands with Commissioner Roger Goodell and pose with the “1” jersey of his new employer.

Surely life doesn’t get much better than this, the tip top of the food chain at 21 years of age.

Hello, World, I’m here for you!

Then, after a couple of hours, they are down to two or three back there, not so cocksure anymore. It’s more like they are trying to smile at each other, keep up confident appearances while trying to act like they hope their new buddy’s cellphone rings first.

And then, gradually, there is only one — if he hasn’t already excused himself and hightailed it back to the hotel room.

Suddenly the guy who a couple of hours earlier looked like he was waiting in line to collect on a lottery ticket, now looks like he’s sitting, very much alone, on death row.

He’s still going to get paid, but his agent didn’t mention anything about this.

Fortunately, television will give him no privacy as he repeatedly shifts uneasily, right there before America’s eyes, and Kiper can’t figure out why he’s still sitting.

But it gives the commentators something to speculate about as, sometimes, family is summoned to console him in his time of need.

That has to be really embarrassing — and great TV.

My theory is that the last guy left in the green room unexpectedly becomes radioactive. Even the NFL teams that “can’t believe he’s still on the board” get suspicious. The other teams must have uncovered something their crackpot scouting staff missed, and now they’re not touching him either.

He could be there for days. All of it on high-def TV.

Yes, the draft is always a confusing mess, but fortunately Les Miles will be there ringside in New York, on temporary loan from LSU as an analyst for the NFL Network, to help sort it out for viewers.

Or maybe not.

But we’ll surely find out who has the “chest” for the next level and a “want” to make some serious money.

But can there be a more frightening phrase in the English language than, “Les Miles, you’re on the clock?”

And, fortunately for the Saints, Russell Erxleben is not on the board.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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