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April 29, 2014

LINDLEY: What will happen in NFL draft? No one really knows

The subject on the sports talk show was both shocking and perplexing, but it probably serves as a good illustration for discussing the upcoming NFL draft.

The news was that University of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, once thought to be an early selection in the draft, was invited and accepted an offer to join 29 other top collegians at New York’s Radio City Music Hall to find out which pro team they’ll play for next season.

The “analysis” then turned into a discussion about why Bridgewater would submit himself to such possible embarrassment and public ridicule if he falls into a later round and ends up sitting alone in the green room.

After Bridgewater led Louisville to a lopsided bowl game win over Miami, 36-9, last December, he looked to be a top 5 selection — a lock. But what transpired was a questionable showing at the NFL combine, which sparked nonstop second-guessing from those who write and comment about such draft matters.

So what’s likely to happen to Bridgewater or any of the rest of the country’s best college players from the 2013 season? Well, nobody really knows. Despite the hours spent interviewing coaches, watching film and developing well-reasoned mock draft lists, the truth remains a mystery, well-guarded by teams that have nothing to gain by publicly sharing their innermost thoughts.

But that’s what happens when you pair news concerning the country’s favorite sport with a sprawling media industry that needs topics to discuss for every hour of the day.

Couple that with a subjective, high-stakes business of grading players and projecting which ones will become stars and who will become quickly forgotten, it boils down to a gigantic Las Vegas-style roll of the dice. Reputations — and careers — will be determined when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces that “The Houston Texans select [fill in the blank] with the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft.”

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