I am really passionate about my sports, but I have to stop taking them so personally.
As a NFL fan, it's nearly impossible not to get swept up in NFL Draft hype. Given the collective bargaining agreement, teams can get great talent in the draft for almost a fraction of what the other (non-rookie contract) players make. Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson are great examples of how the draft can cost-effectively transform a team. The Detroit Lions, my team, have a lot of salary cap room tied up with big name talent like Matt Stafford, Ndamukong Suh, Calvin Johnson and Stephen Tulloch and have traditionally drafted well. As a result, I was anxious heading into draft night.
As a long-suffering Lions fan, I hoped that we would use our first round pick (no. 10 overall) to fill a real weakness on the team. To my chagrin, the Lions picked Eric Ebron. Eric Ebron is surely talented but he does not fill a critical need. The Lions need more talent in the defensive backfield or a rush-happy outside linebacker to stop Aaron Rogers and Adrian Peterson (even Jay Cutler for that matter). Without a more solid defense that will generate consistent 3rd and longs, my Sundays in the fall will be full of self-inflicted terror.
After the Ebron pick, I found myself emoting on Twitter about how disappointed I was, a telltale sign I allowed this "hobby" of mine to impact me too much.
It has gone too far when I end up insulting a stranger's tie online.
Ebron is clearly capable of becoming a great NFL player, but I am just stunned he's a Lion now.
The Lions' selection of tight end, and a non-blocking one at that, left me reeling from despair and confusion. How could they waste a first round draft pick on the one position we have a semblance of depth at? Why won't the dysfunction stop? Are my fears that our defense will perish under Caldwell coming to fruition? Why, why, why?
Now, a day later, I have calmed down a bit. What is done is done, and I have better things to do than obsess for the whole summer. It's just football right?
Ebron is a great football player with distinct talent. Calling him a TE is a bit of a misnomer, because he is essentially a big, fast wideout who will will rarely play on the line of scrimmage. If, as hopefuls suggest, he will be the Lions' "Jimmy Graham," then things will be very interesting. Even defensive-minded me cannot scoff at the prospects of 1,000 extra receiving yards on top of what we already are producing.
I have to give Jim Caldwell a chance to win with his system and shouldn't assume the worst just because it's the Lions. More than anything, I am refusing to let the Lions cause me to panic anymore, irrespective of their moves on or off the field.
With Ebron, Matt Stafford will have a solid assortment of pass options to complement Megatron (remember they added Golden Tate too in free agency). Our pass offense will consistently present matchup problems for defenses in the NFC North. An even stronger aerial game will aid our running back tandem's effectiveness. It won't take much for Ebron to outclass Brandon Pettigrew (wasn't really a deep threat plus with the new contract production will likely fall anyway). What's more, if Pettigrew can't produce, we can cut him and save a lot of cap room next year. Though I love Fauria, he is really just a passing option in limited sets, and the element of surprise is gone.
Ebron's addition could make the Lions' offense unstoppable and extend Calvin Johnson's career. An offense that clicks should keep the defense off the field, right??!
I'm trying to convince myself that I am ok with the pick. It's only marginally effective. For now, I'll try to calmly (and passively) follow how the rest of the draft goes.
I still believe that you need the best defense in our division to win it. There was a clear focus on defensive picks from the other teams in our division on day 1 of the draft. If the Lions care about my wits at all, they will select some quick sack-happy young men to accentuate our defensive line. But either way I will just deal with it. Life didn't end when they collapsed in the second half of last season, though it seemed like it was.
I will pray the rest of the draft surprises me in a good way and enjoy my weekend. We'll see how I fare as a non-obsessive fan. It'll be a big change, but until I can buy the Lions and call the shots with them, I need to limit my mental energy spent on the team.