Have we ever needed a distraction more than we do now?
Thank goodness for the NFL Draft.
At a time when sports is on hold and when so many of us need something — anything — to take our minds off the uncertainty of a cruel and unforgiving virus, the NFL draft couldn't have come along at a better time.
Thursday April 23rd, that's when the three-day selection process begins. No, there won't be thousands overflowing the Las Vegas Strip, which once upon a time seemed like such a wonderful plan. Instead this has become a stay-at-home draft. Just about everything will be done remotely, teams communicating by video conferencing and drafted players celebrating with only their closest family members at their side.
This is the new norm. And it's a shame isn't it? A year ago there was Dolphins' No. 1 pick Christian Wilkins chest-bumping Commissioner Roger Goodell to the delight of a throng of thousands packed into the streets of Nashville. This year? Social distancing will keep everyone apart. The roars of approval from the fans or the boos from the doubters will be replaced by the Sounds of Silence. Can you do a virtual chest bump?
But at least the draft will go on. At least we'll have the intrigue and the suspense and something sports-related live on television to watch. Fondly remembering one of my all-time favorite movies, we should call this "The Great Escape." Because that's what it is for so many reasons, an escape from all that's been happening around us. Even for just a few days, a welcome reprieve.
Which brings us to the Dolphins and, with three first round picks and 14 overall, there is no disputing the importance of this draft. No doubt these last couple of weeks are going to be strange. Massive brain trust meetings can no longer happen. The big draft board sits alone in a locked office on the second floor of the Dolphins' training facility. Players can't be flown in for last minute visits because every team facility is closed. General Manager Chris Grier must keep his distance from those scouts and advisors he needs to be closest to.
All very strange. All very necessary.
But as much as Grier and his staff would have liked these last weeks to be more open than shut, every team is in the same situation, and must overcome the same obstacles. It isn't the best scenario; it's the only scenario.
The Dolphins, to their credit, are doing the best they can to service their fans. Available on the team's Facebook group, there will be a virtual draft party, providing access to interviews with draft picks and current players and analysis both locally and league-wide.
Again, it's not the norm that we want; it's the norm that we must accept.
There has been so much conjecture over the past month or so surrounding the Dolphins. Will they stay where they are at with those three first round picks? Will they use their resources to move up? How bold will they be? How creative? And perhaps the biggest question of all: Which of the quarterbacks do they like the most?
Would love to have the answers for you right now. Truth is, though, it's impossible to know what Grier is thinking. He is difficult enough to read when you talk to him up close, but now that he is at a distance, spending much of his time working at home, it's even more challenging.
I often laugh when I hear all the predictions and study all the mock drafts. Yes, it's enjoyable to play the game, like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle, and a lot of what I read makes perfect sense. But there are just too many variables involved, especially with as much ammunition as the Dolphins have, to think you really know what's going on.
I do know this: The Dolphins came up big in free agency, signing 10 players all in their 20's and all capable of upgrading the talent level on this team. If they can just follow that up with an equally productive draft, well, this could get fun in a hurry.
And some fun would do us all a lot of good these days, don't you think?