Though the nuclear winter starts for college football fans immediately following bowl season (with a brief burst of March sunlight for spring drills), NFL addicts jump straight from the Super Bowl to Draft mania, obsessing over mock drafts and team needs for nine weeks. When Draft Saturday finally arrives, an honest fan will tell you the speculation and build up were infinitely more fun than the event itself, wherein teams spend 15 minutes per pick, followed by gross overcoverage (and overreaction) from a panel of talking heads. Five minutes of Chris Berman and Mel Kiper is five too many; subjecting viewers to the pair for an entire weekend is downright felonious.
(A quick aside: the most fascinating aspect of the NFL Draft may be the way its language has creeped into other conversation topics among men. A not at all implausible exchange:
Guy 1: "When you're talking about a girl like Michelle, the question I keep asking myself is, 'What's her upside?'"
Guy 2: "I love the potential here. I'm telling you, the sweatpants hide her best asset."
Guy 1: "I just feel like with Emily recently single again, this might be a reach."
Guy 2: "Trust me, Michelle's a steal here. Emily may have more peak value, but if we're talking longevity, Michelle is the pick. You've met Emily's mother haven't you?" [makes twirly-crazy motion with finger])
A look now at the Longhorns who will hope to hear their names called this weekend:
Limas Sweed - A good number of draft boards have Sweed being snatched by the Titans at #24 , a destination which would thrill Longhorn fans. If not Tennessee, Sweed - viewed as the first or second best receiver in the draft (along with OU's Malcolm Kelly) - will assuredly be off the board by the end of round two.
Jamaal Charles - Most experts have Charles pegged as a situational pro, a characterization Charles understandably resists. If actual scouts view him the same way, Charles' value takes a dip and he's more likely to be drafted by a strong team which can afford the "luxury" of drafting a tailback who doesn't project as an every down carrier. Charles may wish to be drafted somewhere he can play every down, but he should be careful what he wishes for. Being drafted to a strong team where he can shine might be better for his career than trying to be an every down back in the wrong situation. Paging: Cedric Benson.
Tony Hills - Texas fans know what a great story Tony Hills is. On Draft Day eve, the situation looks good for the 'Horns former left tackle, as most projections have him graded as a second round selection.
Frank Okam - No consensus exists on Texas' enormous nose tackle, but I don't buy some of the stories you see about him falling way down the draft board. Players of his physical skill are incredibly rare; I'll be shocked if he's not drafted before the end of round two.
Derek Lokey - Probably a bit underrated for most of his college career, Lokey seems likely to catch a discerning team's eye. He's stupid strong and utterly fearless. He'll get a look somewhere.
Jermichael Finley - He's certainly got the potential to be a great offensive weapon, though the scouting types say his blocking is liability enough that he won't be drafted early. Perhaps the definition of a "high upside" pick.
Marcus Griffin - I have no idea where he'll get drafted, but he doesn't appear to have the speed to play Sunday football. I guess we'll see. Great kid, though, and I'll be rooting for him.
Nate Jones - He led the 'Horns in receptions last year, catching four or more passes in 11 of Texas' 13 games. I have no idea what his combine numbers were or anything, but he was an ideal program player for Texas. Another guy I'll root hard for.
Billy Pittman - The Titans should take him in the late rounds, reuniting him with Vince Young. He never clicked with Colt McCoy, but Pittman's got more potential than he showed his final two seasons. Well worth a late-round flyer, if you ask me.
[UPDATE] BTSC has an interesting Top 150 prospects list that's enlightening. Marcus Griffin scores higher than I thought he would.