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Guest Column: NFL draft more than glitz and glamour

Nathan Pearson, Guest Columnist

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What do Kurt Warner, Warren Moon and John Randle all have in common? They were all all-pro performers and at one time one of the best players at their respective positions.

So, would anyone like to guess which round each player was drafted? If you said they weren’t drafted at all, you’re right.

The NFL draft is just around the corner, which means many fans will be closely watching who their team adds to its roster. Fans consider this one of the most important times of the season and believe a run at the Super Bowl could begin in April.

Of course, there are guys like Peyton Manning who are drafted first overall and go on to turn a franchise around. But for every future legend who is drafted, there’s a bust (I’m sure Chargers fans still cringe every time they hear the name Ryan Leaf).

In my opinion, the NFL draft is over-hyped. I know this is the primary way that teams acquire new talent in hopes of assembling a roster to win the Super Bowl. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you went to college, where you drafted or if you were even drafted at all.

Some of the biggest contributors to the NFL were late rounders or were not drafted all. This was the time of year everyone overlooked them, but they proved all the doubters wrong.

Kurt Warner started one year at Northern Iowa, a small Division I-AA (now FCS) school. Warner was under everyone’s radar and went undrafted in 1993. He signed with the Packers but was cut before the season started.

Warner’s prospects of ever playing in the NFL looked bleak, but in a matter of several years he would go from stocking shelves at Hy-Vee to hoisting up the Lombardi Trophy.

Warner’s alternative route to the NFL began with the Iowa Barnstormers in the Arena Football League. Warner’s impressive success gave him an opportunity to play in the NFL Europe, which was a developmental league for the NFL. After a season with the Amsterdam Admirals, Warner signed with the St. Louis Rams in 1998.

A preseason injury to starter Trent Green thrust Warner into the spotlight in 1999. Nothing was expected of this undrafted no-name, but by the end of the season, Warner had passed for 4,353 yards and a league-best 41 touchdowns, and was named league MVP.

He led the Rams to the Super Bowl, where he broke the passing yardage record with 414 and the Rams defeated the Titans 23-16.

Warner’s story is just an example of many. Warren Moon, John Randle, Wes Welker and Tony Romo are some examples of players who weren’t even drafted. And while they may not be considered some the greatest ever, these guys were expected to be riding the bench if they even made the team at all.

On the other hand, there are guys like Rick Mirer, Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch and JaMarcus Russell. Mirer and Leaf were drafted second overall, and Couch and Russell were drafted first overall. I doubt many people reading this even know who those guys are now.

Several years from now, there’ll be a guy who rises out of nowhere and does something great in the NFL. He’ll be the same guy who wasn’t considered good enough in this year’s draft.

There are always the big-name players everyone is talking about, but I’m more interested in the guy no one is talking about, but who will go on to shock the NFL.

I don’t think anyone was interested in Dick Lane when he played at Scottsbluff Junior College, but his 14 interceptions in 1952 is an NFL record that still stands today.

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The student news site of Wayne State College
Guest Column: NFL draft more than glitz and glamour