In the coming weeks, everybody from your co-workers to your boss to your hair stylist to the guy who empties out your recycling bin will become a draft expert. Even if they do have some running knowledge of college football, it’s only been a couple of months since Carson Wentz had his named changed from “that kid from North Dakota State.”
They come in all ages, sexes, sizes, religions, occupations and ethnic backgrounds. Their levels of actual expertise are just as divergent. There are going to be guys who couldn’t pick Wentz out of a three-man lineup that will claim with certainty which prospect the Vikings should take with the 23rd pick.
These will be the types of phrases spewed by the newly minted experts.
From a bar patron in Hibbing: “If Laquon Treadwell drops to the Vikes, I’m buying season tickets.”
From an accountant in New Brighton: “Josh Doctson is a dog. Corey Coleman is where’s it at.”
From a pharmacist in Worthington: “I would trade the entire draft for Myles Jack.”
The sad reality is that, in 2016 anyway, there may be only one thing that qualifies you as being an intelligent draft observer and two things that make you a borderline expert – having watched Ohio State Buckeyes and the SEC.
Being a fan of the SEC is always a draft primer because, by any estimation, the SEC is the NFL’s pulmonary vein of young talent on prove-it contracts.
In the most recent Viking Update mock draft, you see seven of our first-round picks and 19 of the 63 players that will be taken in the first two rounds will be players from the prestigious Southeastern Conference.
If you know your SEC, you’re an unofficial scout, considering that the first two rounds could include such football factories as North Dakota State, Eastern Kentucky, Houston, Louisiana Tech and, to a slightly lesser extent because of their blue field, Boise State. Add those bachelors into your mix and you have a slightly better take on who’s going to be who in the draft.
But, to be truly literate in the 2016 NFL draft, all you have to be is a fan of The Ohio State University.
Ohio State is going to be in hot pursuit of the all-time record for first-round picks from a single school in the first round – six from the 2004 Miami Hurricanes.
Defensive end Joey Bosa will start the hit parade, likely going between picks No. 4 and 6. Running back Ezekiel Elliott is expected to go in the top half of the first round. Linebacker Darron Lee and offensive tackle Taylor Decker could be in that mix. Throw in defensive backs Eli Apple and Vonn Bell and we could see the all-time record tied this year.
But it doesn’t stop there. While not expected to go in the first round, the Buckeyes could also see three more players drafted before the end of the second round – wide receivers Michael Thomas and Braxton Miller and linebacker Joshua Perry.
If someone is a fan of Ohio State, they will have an insight to as many as nine of the first 63 picks in the draft. If that doesn’t qualify them as an expert in the era of everyone claiming some sort expertise, what will? Some drafts have been marked by players from the same conference being drafted in the first round and, in recent years, Nick Saban has been an opening-night fixture as Alabama becomes the feeder program to the NFL. But, in 2016, it would appear Urban Meyer is going to be the man of the night, sending off his players to the NFL in what could end up being record numbers in the first two rounds. In the process, he will make draft experts out of people whose only claim to fame is that they watched Ohio State football every Saturday.