NFL, NBA drafts starting to get rolling

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2008

We’re in an interesting part of the sports year right now.

Sure, the NBA playoffs are getting people’s attention, but the drama hasn’t really started there.

In some distant part of the world, someone is worrying about the NHL playoffs, but I can count the number of hockey fans I know on two fingers.

Folks around these parts are already thinking about football since the colleges around here have had their spring games.

Two of the biggest things getting attention on the national sports scene are the NFL draft and the NBA draft.

This Saturday will be the NFL draft, and college football fans are looking to see where their favorite players will be suiting up next year.

Some people look at it from the other perspective – who’s coming to help my team? – but college football fans outnumber NFL fans around here.

This year’s draft is interesting because for once, quarterbacks aren’t in high supply.

I’m not very old, but I remember years past when it was all about the quarterbacks.

I remember 1999, when the top three were Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb and Akili Smith.

Or let’s go back another year with Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf.

(Ryan Leaf… there’s a name I haven’t heard in a while.

I wonder what he’s doing these days.

Probably working the drive through at a Burger King somewhere, but I digress…)

The top quarterback pick in this draft will almost certainly be Matt Ryan from Boston College.

Most places don’t have another quarterback listed as going in the first round.

This year is all about linemen, running backs and defensive backs.

On a personal note, I am excited about the probability of having another Troy Trojan drafted in the first round.

Demarcus Ware was the first in 2005, and he’s gone on to have a Pro Bowl career in Dallas.

I got to watch D-Ware play in 2003 and 2004, and he was joined by a promising freshman named Leodis McKelvin in 2004.

Every time McKelvin got the ball on a kickoff or punt return, you held your breath because he just might go all the way.

In the last two years, he’s turned into a lock-down corner.

Maybe he’ll have a successful NFL career like fellow Trojans Ware and Osi Umenyiora of the Giants.

The other draft interest comes from the NBA draft.

That draft won’t be held until the end of June, but now is the time for athletes to declare for it.

Nearly every &uot;impact&uot; freshman has decided to make the jump.

Surprise, surprise.

UCLA’s Kevin Love – gone.

Kansas State’s Michael Beasley – gone.

Memphis’s Derrick Rose – gone.

USC’s O.J. Mayo – gone.

The only reason these guys were in college in the first place was because of the NBA’s eligibility rules.

You have to be 19 years old and one year out of high school.

Gone are the days of drafting players right out of high school. (Although it didn’t work out too badly for Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett.)

Sure the guys I listed a moment ago would benefit from more time in college.

That’s more time to develop and work on your skills before taking it to the next level.

But I made this point back during the NFL draft – if you could be guaranteed millions of dollars to not play college basketball again, would you do it?

It’s awfully tempting.

You also never know what could happen in those three years back in college.

It could be the best thing you ever did, taking your game to a whole new level and raising that salary just that much more.

Or you could suffer a career-threatening knee injury in the second game of your sophomore season.

I’m a big fan of college basketball, so I’d love to see all the underclassmen come back, but I can’t really blame them for making the jump.

I just hope they all made informed decisions that turn out well.