Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday's Musings on Sports -The NFL Draft 2013 - Wants, Needs, Value & Faith

Every year, the NFL draft seems to become a larger event than the year before. Where the NFL draft used to be a one day affair in which only the first round was televised, it has now become a three day bonanza in which the first round is televised in prime time on Thursday night, the second and third rounds are also televised, but start at 6:30 PM and the remaining four rounds still have heavy TV coverage.

This year's draft had some added intrigue as none of the usual skill positions (QB, RB, WR) had highly rated prospects. Where most (if not nearly all years) have a QB taken in the first three or four picks, there was no QB prospect who distinguished himself enough to go in the top 15 selections. In the days leading up to the draft, the pundits predicted that the draft would be mostly about meat - meaning big offensive and defensive linemen. Those predictions came to fruition as the first seven picks in the draft were wide body offensive and defensive linemen.

Because the first round of the draft was so heavy in linemen (no pun intended) there was significant intrigue leading up to the second round. To a not so casual observer, it appeared that the second round had almost the same level of interest as the first round. There was the story about Geno Smith who reportedly sat and pouted on live TV when he was not selected in the first round, although he had been an early pick for the Heisman Trophy. There was Matt Barkley who had projected in 2012 as a potential top 5 pick in the draft, but after a sub par season, his stock fell precipitously as well. There was Tyrann Mathieu aka "Honey Badger" who has a world of talent but can't seem to stay clean. All of these stories were still percolating on the second day of the draft and many even continued over into the third day.

The buzzword used by many draft analysts for players who dropped in the draft is "value". If a player originally projected as a high round pick, but he slips later into the draft, the pundits will label him as high value, because the team that drafted him got a talented player but did not need to use a high pick on him. This year's draft included many value picks including Tank Carradine going in the second round to the 49ers, Eddie Lacy (viewed by many as the best RB in the draft) going late in the second round to the Packers and Matt Barkley going in the fourth round to the Eagles.

However, for each player that is deemed to be a value pick, there also needs to be an assessment of whether the team actually got value. By way of example, when Mrs KB and I were first married, we lived in a second story walkup in Queens. The apartment was nice, but it did not have that much in the way of storage. Every time that Sarah & I went to Costco we needed to ask ourselves - although the 16 pack of (fill in the blank) was a good deal, did we really need that many of them and where could we possibly store them.

When a team drafts a "high value" player they may have landed a gem. But if they don't have a particular need for a player at that position, the question becomes - was this truly a good value at all? Wouldn't they have been better off by addressing a need, even if the player that they picked may not have been the best player left on the board?

 The analysis makes me think about the shmitta (sabbatical) year. The Torah teaches that every seventh year, a farmer must stop farming his land and let it lie unworked. This creates a great deal of consternation for the farmer as he must put his faith in Hashem that he will be able to live on his prior harvest until he begins to reap in the eighth year of the shmitta cycle. However, Hashem has promised the farmer that he will harvest all that he needs in the sixth year and it will in fact sustain all of his needs through the eighth year. While the farmer may be tempted to work the land in year seven for financial gain, he knows deep down that all of his needs are taken care of and that the "value" of the seventh year is sitting in study with his family, rather than being in the field.

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