Each year, the National Football League draft creates far more interest than it should.
That being said, this year’s selection process drew record-setting appeal, in large part because of our thirst for anything resembling live sports.
But does it seem that social-media attacks weren’t as vicious last weekend, unless your team traded up in the first round to select a backup quarterback and irritated your future Hall of Famer.
Maybe the fan bases are becoming more tolerant, or maybe this pandemic has sucked all the venom out of the patrons.
This is an annual plea for fans to trust the NFL’s decision-makers, who invest millions of dollars and work hours to determine which players have the most value and are the best fits for their respective teams.
It appears the Minnesota Vikings are a team that really did well in the draft. However, when you have plenty of holes on the roster, it’s easier to find players to fill them.
The Vikings seemed to hit home runs in the first round, using their own pick and the one acquired from Buffalo for petulant receiver Stefon Diggs to grab receiver Justin Jefferson and cornerback Jeff Gladney. In the second round, the Vikings were able to land tackle Ezra Cleveland, taking another step in rebounding the offensive line.
The third round brought another cornerback, while the Vikings added two defensive linemen and a linebacker in the fourth round. Halfway through the draft, and the Vikings had already addressed the bulk of their needs going into the weekend.
If you’re a big fan of trading back and acquiring more draft picks, you were wildly entertained by this draft.
The salary cap finally caught up with the Vikings during the offseason, forcing the team to move on from cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander, defensive tackle Linval Joseph and defensive end Everson Griffen. It seems the Vikings were able to find younger, less expensive talent at those positions.
It remains to be seen if that also means better. It also remains to be seen if it matters, given the uncertainty of the upcoming season.
Now that the draft is over, and without in-person offseason programs scheduled yet, these young players will certainly be tested early in their careers. Coaches are going to have to be more prepared and more effective, doing the instruction and corrections that normally occur during practice under the brighter lights of real games.
These are crazy times for professional sports, but last weekend’s draft showed that interest remains very high. The lack of criticism about a team’s draft choices perhaps shows that fans have gained some perspective, realizing that the effects of a global pandemic are far more important than who gets picked in a professional sports draft.
Even the folks in the NFL seem to have realized that the same job can be done, whether its scouting, selecting or broadcasting the draft, without the insane numbers of hours at the office. It appears that the lack of in-person scouting really hurt small-school players, but hopefully, there comes a time when they get their shot, too.
Will fans be less harsh and critical once games begin again? You’d like to think so, but probably not. For some reason, the NFL seems to bring out the worst in those who use social media as an assault weapon.
But for one weekend, it was kind of nice that most folks just observed, without the over-reaction from those whose opinions were built solely by sifting through myriad mock drafts.
Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.