One of the NFL’s least-recognized hiatuses ends Thursday evening when Philadelphia hosts the annual draft for the first time in 57 years.
The hometown Eagles select 14th in the opening round, giving fans sufficient time to practice both cheering (any selection Philly makes whether they’ve heard of him or not) and booing (every time Roger Goodell walks to the podium or any pick by the Giants, Cowboys or Redskins).
Don’t be surprised if the spotlight on the Indianapolis Colts during the draft’s continual wave of feel-good storylines is minimal.
After all, we’re talking about a marginal team desperately trying to regain its most recent glory — losing by 38 points to New England in the 2014 AFC Championship Game, an event now better known for launching the “Deflategate” fiasco.
The NFL Draft, now conveniently spread across three days solely for monetary and exposure purposes, is traditionally one big hugfest, with Jon Gruden comparing every pick to “The next (insert retired legend here).” There won’t be much hugging of the Colts.
At least initially.
Indy’s first-round selection is the 15th overall, too far down the list to reel in one of the big-name prospects in one of the team’s areas of immediate need.
Drawing even less notice, at least from a national perspective, will be what the franchise does with its other selections — Nos. 46, 80, 121, 137, 144 and 158.
But we’ll notice. And it’s my hope that come September and October, the same talking heads warming up their shoulder shrugs for what the Colts do this week are the ones patting new general manager Chris Ballard on the back for a job well done.
Based on Ballard’s doings from his first three months on the job, I believe there is a good chance of this happening.
Ballard’s ability to upgrade the Indianapolis roster, particularly on defense with free agent signings such as inside linebackers Jon Bostic and Sean Spence and tackles Johnathan Hankins and Al Woods, gives the team more flexibility when drafting.
The March trade of tight end Dwayne Allen to the reviled Patriots — a transaction initially met with “What are they doing?” looks of astonishment — might pan out to be stroke of genius depending on what Indianapolis does with the fourth-round pick it got in return.
Just once, it would be nice to see the Colts out-Patriot the Patriots. Maybe this is that time.
Furthermore, someone in Ballard’s position must be salivating over having four draft selections between Nos. 121 and 158 overall. Here is where we’ll eventually discover the GM’s knack for weighing talent vs. need, how good of an evaluator of talent and character he really is.
The future starts later this week.
And surprise, surprise — the Cleveland Browns are first on the clock.