What is the Chargers’ draft strategy? What will they do? While there are many predictions from "experts" that I’m almost positive the team takes into consideration, no one really knows for sure. Will they take a cornerback at 25? A nose tackle? An outside linebacker? A cheetah? The ghost of Guy Fawkes dressed like a Palestinian mime energetically lip-syncing to "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers? All decent possibilities.
The NFL, unlike sports like baseball, do not have a minor league. They have colleges they draw their players from. This makes financial sense because then teams don’t have to pay for uniforms or doctors or cheerleaders and they don’t have to have giant sausage races around the fifty yard line. They can lean on the colleges for all of this.
I decided to take a closer look at the intricacies of the draft to maybe better help those not in the know understand some of the terminology they will be bombarded by next month as the NFL gathers in New York.
Ostensibly, the combine is where the best athletes in college football gather to work out for teams that may pay them an obnoxious sum of money to play football. In reality and, kind of a creepy reality at that, middle-aged men spend two days ogling athletes in shorts and measuring their arms, legs, thighs, fingers, hand-size and every measurable in the world. Then they take them into a small room and ask them personal questions like "Have you ever done drugs?" "Do you know any gang members?" and "Do you like the movie Spartacus?" We are not here to pass judgment. Moving along.
The War Room
Traditionally war rooms are command centers used by the military to plan strategic defense. Usually buried deep in bunkers and filled with enough Ovaltine to choke a donkey (but not John Elway. He uses his teeth like a baleen.) In football terms it’s usually a room with lots of phones where people mill about and pretend to not notice the cameras surreptitiously placed there. Here is the team’s board.
Team Board or Big Board
Presumably a white board with the names of the people ogled at the draft they found most attractive to draft. The Chargers, as most teams, use a "block" system where they lump players together. It is here where the teams gather all of the draft predictions and try not to screw up so Pete Prisco gives them a great grade because, as everyone knows, all teams want Prisco’s approval. Except the Oakland Raiders who simply hire a medium to make sure Al Davis is satisfied.
On the Clock
When a team is on the clock they have a certain amount of time to call the name of the player they will draft or trade the pick to another team. Or, as the Raiders have done, simply do nothing at all and have people stand like deer in headlights staring at the sun while their time ticks away.
Teams have a complicated formula for judging trade value. For instance, if someone wants the number ten pick they must first give up their first round pick, then a third round pick then all of their colonial holdings in French Guyana while getting the number ten pick and Marvin Gardens which everyone knows no one will ever land on.
Wild guesses put forward by "experts" and non-experts alike, some of them blatantly homeristic. These are difficult to put much stock in. Fear them.
Hopefully this will make things easier to navigate as we head into the final stretch before the teams in the NFL get new blood.