With the 2014 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, all the energy that went into projecting prospects and determining team needs is being channeled into the usual "what-now?" scenarios.
Even as they are just signing their first NFL contracts and showing up at rookie camps this week, the draftees maintain media celebrity status as guesstimates are made about who among them will win some of the various Rookie of the Year awards. It is as if this most hyped draft in NFL history has so much momentum it cannot end.
Among the most popular predictions are for offensive and defensive rookie of the year honors. And, as predictions go, they are predictable.
The most oft-named OROY players are wide receivers Mike Evans (Tampa Bay, No. 7 overall out of Texas A&M), Sammy Watkins (Buffalo No. 4, Clemson), Odell Beckham (N. Y. Giants, No. 12, LSU) and running back Bishop Sankey (Tennessee out of Washington), although he was a second round pick, No. 54 overall.
Despite attempts at logical explanations for these choices, we're not buying any of it. They overlook the obvious. All those receivers, backs, as well as tight ends and even quarterbacks, rely on somebody else to help them perform. Somebody must pass, catch, block for them.
As long as we are guessing, the obvious preseason pick as rookie most likely to succeed this season is offensive tackle Jake Matthews, taken No. 6 overall by the Atlanta Falcons out of Texas A&M.
Aside from that remarkable gene pool that gave him a good start, including Hall of Fame father Bruce, Jake Matthews doesn't need help to step in as an offensive lineman and do a great job. He is big, strong, technically superior and ready to plug-and-play at one of the most important positions in the NFL.
He gets the nod here over offensive tackle Greg Robinson, taken No. 2 overall by the St. Louis Rams out of Auburn, because Matthews is simply more advanced. Robinson may eventually be better, but in the 2014 season Matthews projects as the most likely to succeed among all offensive rookies.
On defense the names most often offered as potential ROY are Jadeveon Clowney, the freakish pass rusher out of South Carolina taken by the Houston Texans with the No. 1 pick, outside linebacker Kahlil Mack (Oakland No. 5, Buffalo) and inside linebacker C.J. Mosely (Baltimore No. 17, Alabama).
On this one we cannot go against the freak or force of nature -- Clowney. Put him on the same defensive front as former NFL defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and offenses are going to have hell to pay.
Now that is settled, maybe that circus that was the 2014 NFL Draft will go away? Nah. Never. According to certain critics, we must track this draft in perpetuity for the sake of historical perspective.
As usual, immediately after the draft, various media assigned grades to teams based on subjective theories of success. It is a decades-old tradition that almost always includes a disclaimer that states that the truth about this draft will not really be known for at least three years.
But despite the prevalence of that widely-understood disclaimer, one popular media critic went out of his way to emphasize that such grades are "meaningless" and it is "ludicrous to try to grade draft classes" even before the players have participated in a workout.
Formerly a lawyer, this critic admonishes the public for encouraging such ridiculous post-draft silliness and seems to desire a cease and desist on such valuations until the reality is obviated years in the future.
Get real. First, after months of projecting players and evaluating team needs, nobody needs to offer disclaimers or excuses for attempting give some perspective -- however subjective -- on the resulting draft. In fact, after such a monumental buildup, it would be remiss not to somehow assess the results in the immediate aftermath of the event.
That is no more ludicrous than any of numerous other traditions in sports -- such as predicting champions in the preseason before we know what injuries and other catastrophic events will impact teams in a given season.
Are we to believe that the media should report in the preseason which team won the Super Bowl three years earlier? Imagine how the current Twitter-time audience would clamor for such insight.
Get it here: We predict the past.
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
After he was selected in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams, outside linebacker Michael Sam, the first openly gay draftee in NFL history, said he just wanted to be judged as a football player.
Of course that ship already sailed when he came out and immediately became the poster child, as it were, for all who desire a politically, socially and intellectually correct world.
But he and the Rams forged forward with all good intentions.
On Wednesday, it was announced that Sam would star in a reality series on the Oprah Winfrey Network, which "spotlights the former University of Missouri football player and historic journey as he prepares to enter the biggest professional sports league in America."
It was learned Thursday that the Rams were unaware that the documentary was in the works until hours before it was announced. It was also reported that none of the series would be taped during rookie camp or OTAs.