Draft raises excitement for upcoming NFL season

It's finally that time of year. The NFL Draft is upon us, and football fans are ready. To me, the draft is the single oasis during the football-less desert that is January through August.

It is fascinating how much attention the two-day event has garnered in just the last few years. No other professional sports' draft receives nearly as much coverage as the NFL's. This increase in interest can be attributed to the success of the National Football League in recent years. Fan support carries over into the offseason as fans watch intently to see how teams improve themselves for the coming years by adding new players through both free-agency and the draft.

This year's draft stands to be very interesting as the first pick belongs to the unpredictable Oakland Raiders, who are keeping their intentions quiet to this point.

Last year, rumors got out about the Houston Texans' decision to begin negotiations and then select Mario Williams before the draft started. In several previous drafts, the team with the first pick had already agreed in principle on a contract with the player it wanted before the draft, thus taking away from the uncertainty that makes the draft so intriguing. It seems as though several teams in the top 10 are definitely listening to trade offers, so the current draft order could be altered drastically by the time the picks are made.

The NFL couldn't have imagined 20 years ago that a one-time basic league meeting where collegiate players are chosen would turn into such a bonanza. Since January, tons of analyzing has been taking place on Internet sites, in magazines and on ESPN to determine players' rankings and what teams they will end up playing for. Now it seems everyone in the football world has created a "mock draft" to illustrate his own predictions. Some guy I know has had a mock draft bulletin board in his room since February. Please don't make fun of me - I mean him.

Several collegiate all-star games and a scouting combine exist so the athletes can be examined from every angle. In case that isn't enough, each college then holds workouts to allow its NFL prospects to have one last shot to raise their stock.

I understand some further reviewing must take place to make sure a certain player is a good fit for a team, but with so much time going by and all the rumors that exist, it is almost as if people are searching for the negatives in each prospect.

I saw the WNBA draft on television a few weeks ago, and it seems its drafting strategy is definitely different. It occurred just a day or two after the championship game was finished. There was no scouting combine or extra prospect workouts. It was just teams drafting players based primarily on the players' performances in games.

The best thing about the draft is that every pick can make a difference. I could list examples of players taken late that have made impacts. Teams seem to be more inclined to fill their rosters with draft picks. Here's hoping your team has a successful weekend.

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