Nick Sirianni, the NFL Draft, and Playground Games

Dec 27, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni looks on from the sidelines against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 28-24. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is a front office’s version of a Broadway debut. They spend 12 months watching game films, conducting interviews, traveling to Pro Days and Combines, and then in the spring, they finally are in the spotlight and put all their hard work into one big performance. 

Obviously, there are high expectations every year. No matter how great the performance, though there are always going to be the couch critics (myself included) that find holes in the story or a scene that wasn’t as strong as it could have been. Because of that, each team comes up with their own unique ways to discover and evaluate talent.

So where is this going? Well in a press conference this week, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni revealed his own process of revealing a draft prospect’s skill, specifically their competitiveness. During his Zoom calls, he would engage in games of rock, paper, scissors filled with trash talk to see who would fire back at him. 

This is just the latest example of wacky draft processes that teams conduct, but these all just reveal something that we already know: the NFL Draft is overthought. I mean, it makes sense. Front offices will try anything to get an edge for their weekend of glory. I’m not even saying it’s a bad thing. It’s better to overthink than to show up underprepared and screw up the lines. The fact that we keep circling back to these prospects makes it easier for content creators like me to stay employed. 

However, I do think that there is a point where overthinking can lead to messing it up. Teams can psych themselves out of a pick that if they just stopped the thinking process, it would be obvious what to do. Recent examples include guys like Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, and Lamar Jackson. 

I fear that we’re going to look back at Justin Fields in the same light. Throughout the entire 2020 season, it seemed like a no-brainer that he would be the second pick of the draft. If not the second pick, he would at least be the second quarterback off the board. Now, though, it is looking as if he could as far as the fourth or even fifth QB picked.

This doesn’t specifically have to do with the fact that Sirianni has attributed competitiveness to a virtual game of rock, paper, scissors, but again, this is just one weird way that teams go about this process in order to shine on draft night. You’re lying to yourself if you don’t think every team has at least one similarly strange way of overthinking this time of year. At some point, though, these teams are going to have to stop thinking and make the picks. The spotlight awaits, and we’ll see how they fare.