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A More Certain Uncertainty

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The NFL Draft marks the end of the mock draft season. For some of us, that can't happen soon enough.

Confession

For me, the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft are some of the longest in the entire off season. Barring an arrest or Adrian Peterson and his agent shooting their mouths off, the only football stories we have are about mock drafts.

SB Nation will likely put my name on a black list and shame me for saying this, but I don't like mock drafts. There, I said it. Let the suspension, slap on the wrist, scolding, or what have you, fall where it may.

It isn't so much that I dislike the idea of trying to guess how teams will build their rosters through the draft, what I find tiresome is the plethora of draft experts promoting their mock drafts as something more than an educated guess. Sure, guys like Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock have been doing this for a long time, and they have seen a lot of trends, know the preferences of different general managers and coaches, and can name the top needs for all the NFL teams and, probably, for several CFL teams too. Yet, despite all that accumulated knowledge and all the insider tips, they still don't have the full story--none of us do. Just like anyone else, they are working with limited information. C'mon, guys, call it what it is, a guess.

A New Hope

And that is why I love the NFL Draft. It marks an official end to all the mock draft guesswork and gives us something concrete to talk about.

After weeks of uncertainty and guesses, we finally have some action, some sense of what direction our team could be going in the next season. At the very least we have a new conversation and, after those dull, endless weeks of mock drafts, that's a welcome change. What's interesting about the NFL Draft is that the focus is as much on the shenanigans of a team's suits as it is on the shenanigans of the prospective players. Big, burly players dressed in dapper suits and seated with their proud families, all of them waiting for the phone to ring, to get that call from a suit on some team saying they will be picked.

With the draft now televised NFL fans can watch every moment of fidgety anticipation, drama, and even disappointment unfold. The drama and anticipation seem appropriate too because where a player is selected in the draft will dictate his earning potential for the first 4 to 5 years of his career. On the team's side of the pick, general managers are making a gamble that this young player will make the team better, thus justifying the use of a valuable draft pick and the general manager's position with the team. Should that gamble come up bust, it could be adios mofo for that general manager and a career defined as a draft dud for the player. From draft night forward both the player and general manager will have their careers evaluated, in part, by that pick

Mr. Misdirection

When it comes to draft night maneuvering, the Minnesota Vikings' general manager Rick Spielman is as good for drama and intrigue as anybody in the business. He might not have that smarmy good-ol'-boy charm like Jerry Jones, the quintessential owner/GM hybrid, but Spielman has generated a fair amount of draft night intrigue over the last few years. Just when I think I know what to expect from him, Spielman changes things up. Think he's going to make a trade? Nope he's going to hold steady and select a quarterback who was a bit of a reach in the first round. Think he's going to hold steady? Nope, thrilling trade to get back into the first round for an athletic but unpolished receiver for a total of three players selected in the first round. Think he's going to go with one of the marquee-type quarterbacks still on the board? Not even close, he's choosing a linebacker who's considered a bit of a development player. Giving in to despair about the Vikings' quarterback situation? He trades back into the first round to pick up the future franchise quarterback.

After, seemingly, endless weeks of reading about people debating whether the Vikings will address needs in the defensive secondary or beef up the offensive line or add a receiver, we will finally have the kind of uncertainty that I can groove on--the kind that involves action

I might not know what tricky Rick Spielman is planning to do, but at least the conversation moves from talking about who the team might pick, who they might trade, what they might get, to who is left on the board, who is ponying up a good trade, and how is the team going to make the best use of their new personnel.

Get ready Vikings fans, if history tells us anything, it's that there is no telling what will happen on draft night. Let the dizzying action finally begin.

*Semi-random musical choice, semi-inspired by Ted. I think Ted would have gone with "Beautiful Day", and the end of mock draft season is definitely that, but I'm spinning in another direction.