The genius of the NFL?Draft

The phone rang Saturday afternoon. It was someone I’m close with.

Who’s in Europe.

This person has been on vacation the past few weeks, and I’d spoken to him only once in that interim.

So what did my this person have to say? What did he see? What did he do?

“Zach,” he said. “What did the Browns do in the fourth round?”

Two things:

1. He was calling me from across the planet to talk football.

2. He somehow had access to what Cleveland had done in the first three rounds.

This, to me, speaks to the NFL’s true genius. It has made people believe that its draft – every pick of it – is important.

Peter King, a prominent pro football writer, tweeted Saturday that only 14 percent of all fourth round picks over the past eight years became starters in the NFL.

And yet, it’s on the screen at work as I type this. The picks, now into the sixth round, have populated the texts, tweets and calls I’ve received today.

I’m not sure the draft, beyond the first two rounds, matters that much.

But the league sure has done a good job making us believe otherwise.

Through its advertising, it’s creativity and its focus on the exceptions (“Tom Brady went in the sixth round 12 years ago!”), it has made us think the draft is must see.

All this despite the fact that – beyond the first round – it holds as much drama of a film strip for third graders.

So why do we watch?

Well, there is the local element. In the office, we were all very interested to see where Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde went. The Fostoria

graduate went in the fifth round to Green Bay (see related story), which is good news for people in this area. After all, that means Hyde could play once in Detroit every year.

There also was news Friday that former Tiffin University running back Chris Ivory was traded from the Saints to the Jets. No one knows who will be handing him the ball (I think the Jets website actually has the word “unstable” on the quarterback depth chart), but it should be a good opportunity for the fourth-year pro, who has always played well when he’s healthy.

Other than that, the biggest stories have been about guys who took longer than expected to be drafted – West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

That’s always a good story: What doesn’t happen.

And yet, the event only will get bigger. Maybe the NFL can stretch this into a week-long event. Maybe they can do a round a day.

Because really, who doesn’t have a week to waste?