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Unpredictability the Fun, Frustration of Every NFL Draft

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Unpredictability the Fun, Frustration of Every NFL Draft

The NFL draft is in just two days. For all 32 teams, there is the potential that the fortunes of their franchises could turn on a single pick. But sometimes, it doesn’t happen quite as one might expect.

On this day 29 years ago, Sports Illustrated ran an issue that featured Tony Mandarich on the cover, calling him “the best offensive line prospect ever.” Soon after, the Green Bay Packers selected him with the second overall pick of the 1989 NFL draft.


As Packer fans everywhere now, the next three picks in the draft were all Hall of Famers: Barry Sanders (to Detroit), Derrick Thomas (to Kansas City) and Deion Sanders (to Atlanta).

The tale of Tony Mandarich is a cautionary tale to remind all NFL executives and fans that there is no such thing as a “sure thing” in the draft. Mandarich was seen by draft experts as being about as safe a choice as there could possibly be. Instead, he ended up being one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

And yet, the impact he had on the Packers lasts to this day. The butterfly effect Mandarich kickstarted within the Packers’ organization is arguably enormous. Without his failure, it is unlikely the sequence of events that included the Packers firing Lindy Infante, hiring Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren, trading for Brett Favre and signing Reggie White ever happens. The Packers very well may not have become a force in the NFL for two and a half decades, a run that continues with Aaron Rodgers under center and one that new General Manager Brian Gutekunst will look to continue with his first draft in charge of the team’s roster.

Who knows what the future holds?

This weekend, 32 teams will select players they hope to be the futures of their franchises. There will be a lot of hubbub surrounding the top picks in the draft especially. Media and fans alike will be rushing to grade who had the best and worst drafts, and which players are most likely to bust or succeed.

This is all part of the hype and the fun of draft weekend.

But if history has taught us anything over the years, it’s that nobody knows for sure how any individual player will pan out, and how they’ll respond to the circumstances in which they land.

As Packers fans, we remember the busts. The Tony Mandariches. The Justin Harrells. The Jamal Reynoldses. The Ahmad Carrols. The Rich Campbells.

We remember the late-round nuggets. The Donald Drivers. The Mike Danielses. The Josh Sittons. The Mark Tauschers.

Ultimately, despite all of the research and film study, it’s going to be years before the Packers or we as fans have any idea what this draft class will produce.

But hey, that’s just part of the fun of the NFL draft. 


Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (17) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

4thand1's picture


4thand1's picture

The NFL network sucks. Do they know there are 32 teams to talk about.

Nick Perry's picture


Turophile's picture

Most of what they talk about are the top 10 teams and QBs. the obsess endlessly about the first few picks. How often do you hear them talk about picks 20-32 before the draft, seldom. That is why I like that program where they pick a team (not just the ones drafting high) and go through maybe their first three picks choosing players that they might take. That's the way forward because there are fans of all 32 teams watching.

If a QB is taken three picks before your teams pick in (for example) round 4, then expect the talking heads to still be wittering on about that QB as the picks before yours and your own teams pick are all ignored. They should at least give the following picks a sentence or two.

Good media coverage makes so much difference to enjoying the overall experience, especially as it lasts a long time.

Lare's picture

Yes it will be a few years before anyone is able to adequately assess this draft, but I think we'll all be able to see throughout the season if the offseason coaching changes and player additions are an improvement.

Ultimately, the win/loss record is the final determiner in how successful any offseason moves are.

DD's picture

Pettine will be very good and greatly improve the defense, if we get a constant and serious rush pressure. I'm really waiting to see who replaces Jordy, and the new look playbook by MM. Does it mean schemes will change? Packer nation is watching!!

DD's picture

We should notice a different approach on defense with more confidence and a more agressive approach right away. Mistakes yes, but we need more team speed, especially at linebacker. As far as coaches, I want to see MM changes!!

GBPDAN1's picture

Fingers crossed that we hit in this draft. This draft is so important to giving Rodgers a chance at another SB.

Nick Perry's picture

UGH!!! I can't wait for the draft to start AND for it to be over so I know or better yet have a feeling which way the Packers are headed in 2018 and 19.

croatpackfan's picture

I think next draft will be so important to give Rodgers chance at another SB. And draft after that, and again 2020 draft as well... This one have no bigger importance than any other drafts had...

Community Guy's picture

PERSPECTIVE! thanks Tim Backes.

flackcatcher's picture

So let me get this straight Tim. Your saying that without illegal drugs, the Packers would have never won the 2010 Superbowl. ( Hm...........0:)

Tim Backes's picture

Whatever it takes!

LambeauPlain's picture

Roid boy managed to salvage a little of his career thanks to Infante convincing him to come to the Colts.

When Infante went up to see him in Northern MI where he was a game warden (I think), he weighed a little over 200 lbs.

A few months later he was in Colts training camp and was again close to 300 lbs.

How did he do that?

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

There are no sure things, but Green Bay must draft to their board.

I predict the top 8 defensive players (Chubb, Vea, Ward, James, Edmunds, Smith, James, Fitzpatrick) will all be gone at 14, and will cost too much for trading up.

So since the dropoff from this group is sizable, I hope we trade down in Round 1 to move up in subsequent rounds.

Thar's my prediction. We trade down.

DD's picture

We will. Why? 7 million dollar difference between round 1 and round 2 players. Why? Russ Ball, and TT still lurking. Simple.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Sure, but I really like the 5th year option on first rounders.

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