Finally, after what felt like a lifetime of "Suck for Luck" campaigns, various other bandwagons for college prospects, and countless mind-numbing discussions about whether or not Ryan Tannehill sucks, we're just a week away from the 2012 NFL Draft ... and it can't get here fast enough--not when we're fortunate enough to have the likes of Jim Irsay, Bill Polian, Michael Lombardi, Todd McShay and plenty of other goons telling us what the Miami Dolphins should do with the No. 8 overall selection. If anything, this pre-draft season has absolutely brought the experts (see: jaded morons) out of the woodwork.
If Dolphins fans can learn anything from the 2012 NFL Draft, it's this: absolutely do not listen to these people or anyone else passing themselves off as an NFL draft expert. Sure, their predictions can be right-on sometimes, but these guys get paid to drum up controversy and page views, not inform the loyal football fans taking the time to read and consider their literary or verbal spew. If you have half a brain and a little bit of down time, you can probably come up with a list of needs for your favorite team and attempt to put their draft pieces together. Did your quarterback get bodyslammed more than Chris Jericho last season? You might be taking an offensive lineman in the first round. Did you find yourself cringing every time an opposing quarterback dropped back to pass? You might have a brand-new cornerback in your future. This stuff isn't rocket science; it just requires attention and a little bit of research. Some general managers (including ours) will throw you the curveball, but if you're a fan, you'll have at least an idea of which direction your team will go in the draft.
Let's go back for a moment to the holy union of draft analysts I referenced earlier in this piece. If Lombardi had it his way, we'd trade away 20 first-round picks, Jake Long and Stephen Ross' helicopter in order to move up ahead of the Cleveland Browns and take Tannehill (even though they're almost certainly not taking him at No. 4 anyway). Polian concurs with this logic, and believes a successful draft equals trading away the entire show for a player who will probably still be on the board when it's time to make your selection (and hey, he had to do a lot of maneuvering for Peyton Manning in 1998, so listen to what the man says!). Irsay just tweeted a bunch of nonsense along the lines of "If U want 2 get Tannehill, trade up 2 3rd pick (did this guy learn to spell off of the back of a Prince record?). McShay started pounding the Tannehill-to-Cleveland hype for about 10 minutes before he realized he sounded ridiculous.
I attribute all of these draft opinions to the old adage, It's easy to spend money when it's not yours. Here we are, listening to a bunch of clowns who have no problem going all in with another team's picks and cash. It's easy to try and goad others into trading up for a Ryan Tannehill when you've already got Andrew Luck penciled in to be your Week 1 starter. It's easy to suggest the Dolphins do whatever it takes to needlessly move up and take a hyped-up quarterback when it's not your name on the deal. It's easy to sound informed when you reel off your lackluster resume prior to every discussion you have on NFL Network (for what it's worth, Lombardi also swears up and down that Buccaneers left tackle Donald Penn is currently the best player at his position). None of these guys are Jeff Ireland, and none of them will have their ass thrown to the wolves if Tannehill turns out to be a schlub. Ireland, on the other hand, could get tossed to those wolves (otherwise known as the unemployment line) if he misses on the franchise quarterback Stephen Ross' dreams about each night before bedtime. Yes, the Dolphins have to make sure they acquire that franchise quarterback at some point, but they have to be smart about it. Aggressiveness in the draft is typically rewarded in today's NFL; recklessness? Not so much.
The NFL Draft is all about mystery and intrigue and hype and excitement, and unless a certain analyst has the luxury of soaking up martini-intensive lunches with your team's general manager and head coach, he's guessing when he gives you player X out of the University of Imaginationaland. It might be a really informed guess, but we're still talking about a crapshoot here. Don't forget that.