April 30, 2018 | Posted in: The Wisdom of RastaJay

The 2018 NFL Draft ended this past saturday night (Apri 28) in Dallas, Texas, with another 256 players being selected to compete for 53 eventual roster spots on 32 NFL Teams. Currently, NFL rosters are set at 90 players, so all NFL teams can add their draft choices, sign Undrafted Free Agents (teams may sign 10 or more players, players not selected this past weekend, as UDFAs, depending on how many players were drafted, how many free agents were signed, and who teams want to invite to their rookie mini camp). The Draft is only one of the ways NFL organizations construct a valid NFL roster and America’s fascination with this particular NFL process is worth an entirely different essay.

Maybe you were thrilled with your team’s draft choices, maybe you absolutely hated your team’s draft choices, maybe you’re a Cleveland Browns fan and hoping for a single win in 2018. Who were some winners in this year’s draft?

Shaqueem Griffin and The Edmunds Brothers

A one armed linebacker and 5th round selection by the Seattle Seahawks, Shaqueem Griffin lost part of his left arm, including the entire hand, to amniotic band syndrome, a congenital disorder, causing his fingers to be under developed and at times, extreme pain. The condition led to an amputation at age 4. He first gained national attention [VIDEO] by bench pressing 225lbs (100 kilo) twenty times while wearing prosthesis. The draft pick by the Seahawks reunites Griffin with his twin brother Shaquill, drafted in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, currently playing cornerback for the Seahawks.

His story has brought forth other inspirational stories regarding amputees. I am Shaqueem Griffin has swept America. Virginia Tech teammates and brothers Tremaine and Terrell Edmunds became the first brothers in NFL History to be drafed in the first round, Tremaine taken 16th overall by the Buffalo Bills and Terrell taken 28th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers

The NFL

The spectacle of the draft is increasing at an exponential level each year, with cities in the United States now submitting Olympic type “bids” to the National Football League, for millions of dollars, to secure the “rights” to host future drafts with ClevelandKansas City, and Las Vegas among the finalists to hold next year’s event. The popularity of the sport is growing internationally and revenues of the sport are increasing, surpassing $14 billion (US), growing closer to the Commissioner’s goal of a $25Bn Sports League by the year 2027.

The Fans

As the popularity grows, so does the spectacle. Fans are treated to a luxurious experience coupled with awesome American Parking Lot Parties “tailgating”, conducted to celebrate and watch who is going to be selected from the American University ranks in the draft and have an opportunity to compete for an NFLroster spot.

To my European compatriots, it’s all about the party. And, as we watched Ryan Shazier [VIDEO], walking across the stage to announce a draft pick, and other incredible player reactions and stories, we had the opportunity to be inspired.

The Players

And not just university players, an Australian rugby player, Jordan Mailata, who’s never played a down of American rules football, was drafted in the final round by the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles Hey Americans, sometimes it’s difficult for a European or Australian, to understand a game called football when, in America, the game doesn’t use a ball and players don’t use their feet. … it’s foreign and counter-intuitive, although not as foreign in years past because of the games growing popularity. First Overall choice Baker Mayfield is expected to sign a 4 year contract with a fully guaranteed amount in the neighborhood of $35 million. Undrafted Free Agents are offered a contract in the neighborhood of $500,000 for their service. Instantaneous wealth was created with young men from diverse backgrounds realizing a life long dream in sometimes very emotional fashion. How can you not be inspired?

The Cleveland Browns

They have zero opportunity to be any worse than 2017s 0-16 record. The sky is the limit. Unfortunately, the schedule is tough, the Browns were already the youngest team in the NFL by 1.5 years on average, the draft made them even younger, and adding a quarterback, cornerback, and left tackle candidate with their first three choices gives their fan base new hope, although the hope must be tempered. The Browns, using their first three picks to address these three positions have opened a 10 year window to win a title, provided Baker Mayfield is a Pro Bowl QB, Denzel Ward is a “shutdown” corner, and Left Tackle can be played at league average level. Joe Thomas retiring created an unfillable void, Thomas is a Hall of Famer and teams can spend years trying to adequately replace Hall of Fame Players plus he played the all important position of left tackle.

As your team continues Organized Team Activities and moves closer to the opening of training camp, we’ll have a lot of time to evaluate how well teams did or didn’t do in the 2018 NFL Draft. Until then, we can relish in hope our team improved.

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