Why the NFL Draft feels like a graduation ceremony for college football fans – CBS sports.com (blog)

I love the NFL Draft. I really do.

Now, when I say that, I mean the draft itself. The endless amount of hype leading up to it once the NFL season finishes and the ceaseless procession of mock drafts aren’t the draft. I understand their appeal and why so many NFL fans consume them like water, but when it comes to the NFL Draft, it’s the actual event that sucks me in.

You see, while I watch the NFL, and I have a favorite NFL team, I prefer college football. And that is one of the biggest reasons that I love the NFL Draft as much as I do.

For a college football fan, the NFL Draft is like a graduation ceremony for the players you’ve spent the last few years watching and caring about. At least that’s the way it feels to me. I understand that this might not be the same way for every college fan simply because the majority of college football fans care only about their school and their school’s players.

I, on the other hand, just love the sport. I consume as much of it as possible during the season not just because it’s my job, but because I just enjoy it that much. So when the draft comes around, there’s a part of me that feels like a parent watching their child move on to start their life.

It’s weird, I know, but it’s true.

You see a kid like Myles Garrett, a kid who showed up at Texas A&M with a limitless amount of potential and only began tapping into it, go with the first overall pick, and you feel a sense of vindication knowing that somebody else saw what you did.

Then there are kids like Corey Davis. Davis played at Western Michigan, a smaller school that’s not playing in primetime in big games. Hell, he’s playing a lot of games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Nights when most college football fans aren’t watching, but you are. When you’re watching those games, you’re seeing a kid that you believe is the most talented player on the field just about every time he’s on it, and you’re hoping the fact that he’s at Western Michigan won’t hinder his future. Then draft night comes and he’s taken with the fifth overall pick and you have a hard time believing your eyes.

Of course, there’s another side to this coin as well.

I also spent the last few years watching guys like Deshaun Watson and Jonathan Allen dominate on the field in huge games at key moments. Two kids whom you couldn’t take your eyes off while they played because they just shined that bright.

And so many teams pass on them.

Watson was the third quarterback chosen — though the Houston Texans gave
up a lot to get him
— and Allen was the fourth defensive lineman off the board. What about Jabrill Peppers? If you have ever watched Jabrill Peppers play on a football field you know one thing immediately: there was never a football game in Jabrill’s neighborhood growing up in which he wasn’t the first player picked. Not just because he’s good, but because he’s good at every single position.

There aren’t a lot of natural talents like him that exist, yet in the NFL Draft, he wasn’t the first pick. He was the 25th (though it’s somewhat worth it as a college football fan to see a Michigan star drafted by a team whose fanbase consists mostly of Ohio State fans).

All of that being said, at the end of the day, whether you agree with where they were chosen or not, all that matters is that they were. They’ve received their Master’s in Football and are now on to begin their careers. They’re also saying goodbye. Yes, you’re still going to watch them in the NFL, but it’s not the same. You’re still very happy for them, but that connection is severed.

You’re just grateful that their dreams have come true, and that there are more players whose dreams will come true at the NFL Draft next year.

Now if we could just get them to stop holding it over three nights…

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