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The irrational allure of the NFL draft

grabowskiMugI obsess about the NFL draft, but it still makes absolutely no sense to me.

How, in a process that takes months of analysis and scrutiny, can teams still whiff like rec league softball players?

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These players are studied from the moment they appear on the NFL radar until either Roger Goodell calls their name at the podium or they sit on their couch, phone in hand, waiting for a call that’s never going to come.

It’s transformed from a bunch of men in suits sitting around a table to one of the league’s biggest primetime television events of the year.

The draft, hosted at Radio City Music Hall in New York City since 2006, attracts nearly 6,000 fans live to the event and Thursday’s first round reached 7.7 million viewers across two networks, according to The Live Feed.

Last year’s event featured a star-studded parade of past college stars and future Pro-Bowlers.

Andrew Luck, one of the most consistent and celebrated college quarterbacks ever, went first.

Then Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, also known as RGIII.

National champion running back Trent Richardson got picked third.

This year three offensive tackles were selected in the first four picks.

It took until the 7th overall pick for teams to move out of the trenches.

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If you say you knew who top-pick Eric Fisher was before he shook Roger Goodell’s hand, you spent way too much time watching the NFL Network.

The nation’s collective response was “they picked who?”

Such was this year’s draft, a silly place where Alabama gets three players selected in a row and the San Diego Chargers selected Manti Te’o.

Sources confirmed the Chargers are in fact a real NFL team.

The draft was so weak this year that two players from CU-Boulder came off the board.

Offensive tackle David Bakhtiari was named to the prestigious All-Pac-12 second team. Twice.

Tight End Nick Kasa caught an astonishing 25 passes in his career for 391 yards after switching from defensive end last year. He’s probably more famous for telling the media that NFL teams asked about his sexual orientation than anything he did on the field.

That CU team went 1-11. They lost to Sacramento State. At home.

No player who participated in that debacle should be drafted.

That’s not to say that team success is directly tied to draft position, but when Alabama gets nine players picked clearly it means something.

Mostly it just grinds my gears because two Buffaloes were picked and no one from CSU came off the board for the third consecutive year.

Almost more insulting, the Baltimore Ravens picked Ryan Jensen, an offensive tackle from CSU-Pueblo, in the sixth round.

Not that CSU should be rolling in NFL draft picks after only punter Pete Kontodiakos made the All-Mountain West first team.

The silver lining to this whole process is that three CSU players have a shot at the NFL next year.

Offensive lineman Joe Caprioglio, cornerback Momo Thomas and punter Pete Kontodiakos all signed free agent deals with the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, respectively.

That’s even with the three players invited to camps last year, which shows that CSU is at least maintaining the narrowest of paths to the NFL.

And the talent base keeps growing. Jim McElwain recruits Joe Hansley and Trent Matthews made impacts in their first seasons on the field and coach Mac has proven to be an excellent recruiter and developer of talent.

McElwain’s focus on character as well as football skills will make it hard for teams to find major character flaws in future Rams prospects.

Even if CSU takes huge steps forward in its talent base, the draft will forever remain a crapshoot and about as precise as drunk surgery.

Great players will drop into the fourth or fifth round.

The Raiders will select an athletic marvel you’ve never heard of.

300-pound men in suits will cry on the phone.

It doesn’t make any sense, but that’s why I love it.

And I can’t wait for next year.

Sports Editor Kyle Grabowski (@kylegrbwsk) can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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