Chip Kelly is entering his second season as the Eagles coach and one of the biggest surprises of Year 1 wasn't the speed of the game, or how different the NFL is from college, but ... the draft. Specifically, all the hype leading up to an event that pretty much involves middle-aged men reading names off a card for three days.
But it's more than that, it's the sometimes unreasonable expectations placed on young players.
"What's the worst thing about the league? I said the draft," Kelly told TheMMQB.com's Peter King. "I mean, the hype that goes into the draft is insane. Totally insane. The biggest thing for me is that everybody thinks whoever you drafted or whoever you signed is now gonna be a savior. ...
"I think a lot of times the hype turns into really, really hard times for the individual who got picked, because there's so many expectations of everyone building them up to be Superman because they had three months to write about them and talk about them. Then when they get picked, they're a very, very good prospect, but there's a learning curve when you go from any job out of college into a company. If you take a job at Wells Fargo when you get out of college, your first day of the job they don't say, ‘He's our first-round draft pick, he's the savior to the company!'"
Kelly isn't alone; fans and media experience draft fatigue, too, usually by mid-April. In the past, that hasn't been much of a problem because the draft historically takes place the last week of April. But this time around, the NFL moved its biggest offseason spectacle back two weeks to the dismay of, well, everybody.
“I think the byproduct to the hype that bothers me, is that to some guys it's overwhelming for them," Kelly continued. "The NFL has their Rookie Premiere and they're out there getting all these pictures taken and they're missing practice time to go out to California and they're treated like gods, and I'm like, I don't know if he's going to start. That's not fair.
"And the analysis … We drafted [pass-rusher] Marcus Smith in the first round, and Jordan Matthews in the second round. Then you listen to people around here that say, ‘Well, we don't like their draft. If they had taken Matthews first and Smith second, we would give them an A.' Who cares who went one and who went two? It's almost like there's a lot of scrutiny on Marcus Smith because he went one, but Jordan gets a pass because he fell to the second round. If you ask both those individuals, they have the same goals and aspirations and they're training exactly the same way. It's just how people perceive things, and I think a lot of that has to do with the hype."
It's a great point and one that we see all the time in the hours, days and weeks of mostly meaningless post-draft analysis. That doesn't mean it won't resonate with readers -- just the opposite. It's why CBSSports.com (and every other site covering the league) does it: the NFL is wildly popular and fans want to know everything about the newest additions to their favorite teams.
“Jerry Rice dropped a lot of balls when he was a rookie. He was a strong kid. He took it. But now, for some of these guys, it crushes them," Kelly said. "It's no different than bringing a pitcher up before you should and he gets rocked. He's a stiff. Send him back to the minors. There's a maturation process for everybody. There's no other profession like it. The hype part is just constant.”
And, frankly, that's exactly how the NFL likes it.