IT AIN’T EASY BEING #1

by 7 on April 9, 2008

The moment Darren McFadden clocked a 4.33 40 at February’s NFL combine, the confidence game was on. Draftniks, convinced the Arkansas running back was the next Adrian Peterson, bumped him up their boards, off-field issues be damned. Fans in Miami, Atlanta and Oakland hit the chat rooms to lobby for his selection, confident the two-time Heisman runner-up could single-handedly turn around their sorry teams. McFadden himself gazed down from the postcombine press podium and said: “I’m the best player in the draft.”

But does that make him worth picking No. 1 overall? For that matter, given the NFL’s economic realities, is Chris Long or Jake Long or Matt Ryan or anyone else worth it? Nowhere in sports is the chasm between perception and reality as great as at the top of the NFL draft. So before you paint your face and head to Radio City Music Hall, consider this: Everything you think you know about the No. 1 pick is false. “The truth is, the NFL draft is broken, absolutely; it flat out doesn’t work,” says Colts president Bill Polian, a five-time NFL Executive of the Year. “It’s insane, really.” [read more]

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