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Ed Barnes
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April 25 - Draftaholics Anonymous

Hi everyone. My name is Ed, and I’m a draft addict. A big thank you to the people who started DA,
Draftaholics Anonymous. I know that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem and,
until this past weekend, I didn’t even realize I had one. How do I know I have a problem? I think it’ll
become pretty obvious.

First, I actually set an alarm so I’d wake up to see the first pick. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay
Area, I watched Montana and Young guide the Niners to five Super Bowl victories in my lifetime. Now
the Niners have the first pick and I had to see how it was going to unfold. It didn’t matter I was up until
2 a.m. the night before, I was going to be up at nine in the morning west coast time, to see the first
draft pick of the Mike Nolan era.

Second, as the draft started to unfold in front of me, I started getting emotional as the picks were
announced. I couldn’t believe the Vikings drafted wide receiver Troy Williamson from South Carolina
instead of wide receiver Mike Williams from USC. I couldn’t believe that the Lions tabbed Williams
and drafted a receiver with their first pick for the third straight season! Don’t they need help on

My emotional outbursts continued as the first round went on. What is Aaron Rodgers still doing in the
green room at pick #20? Someone take him already! It’s painful to watch him sit there for hours as
most of the first round passes him by. Matt Jones at #21? Don’t you want a solution in the first round,
not a project? My current hometown team, the Chargers, selected a defensive tackle with the 28th
pick. They had one of the worst passing defenses in the league last year? Why not get some
defensive backfield help?

I couldn’t help myself from breaking down each pick as it went by. Like thinking Mark Bradley and
Reggie Brown were good second round values. Thinking J.J. Arrington will really surprise some
people in the NFL. Thinking that my cousin (OK, not really) Khalif Barnes had no business slipping all
the way to Jacksonville at pick #52.  

I’m not sure why I kept having such a reaction to all these picks. I admitted didn’t know a lot about
these players. I’ve never seen Barnes even play but I know he was a first rounder in most mock
drafts. I saw Bradley have a lackluster Orange Bowl like the entire Oklahoma team, but that didn’t
mean I didn’t think he was a good pick.

Even after thinking about this in the mid second round, I kept watching, even as I went bowling in the
afternoon. I asked the guy at the bowling alley to switch the TV near my lane from the NBA playoffs to
coverage of the draft so I could keep up with the picks and continue to wonder how, on his biggest
day of the year, Mel Kiper Jr’s hair looked like only half of it had product in it. What a disappointing
performance from Kiper’s hair helmet.

Everyone can probably guess what happened after I finished my third game of bowling. That’s right. I
went home and promptly started watching the draft within a minute of getting through the front door.
Even on Sunday I kept my eye on the draft to see what the Niners and Chargers did with their second
day picks. Hoping both teams added some late round gems even though my idea of a late round
gem is someone that Kiper says is a late round gem.

I’ve listened to other people at the meeting here today and heard similar stories. Some of you have
talked about how your wives or girlfriends have questioned why they are in a relationship with you
after this past weekend. Others have expressed the same question I have about getting worked up in
regard to players that we haven’t seen play. However, I think we, as a group, can get through this.

Stepping back from my own experiences I’ve thought about why I was so addicted to the draft this
year. I realized that, like many of you, the reason I paid so much attention to the draft was the weekend
of hope it provides. The Niners were the worst team in the league last season, but this weekend gave
me a time where I could dream about restoring the glory days of the 80’s and early 90’s. Where each
Niner draft pick was a time to pick up the next Roger Craig, Randy Cross, or hopefully in the case of
Alex Smith, the next Montana or Young.

The players taken in the draft have their upside written about for months from before the end of the
college season right up until draft day. All of us here have read about the great combine workouts of
Nebraska cornerback Fabian Washington and Hampton wide receiver Jerome Mathis. These players
are assured of being stars at the next level after the physical ability they’ve shown throughout the draft
process right?

After the draft concluded I realized just how ridiculous my time this weekend was. I had strong
opinions about players that I never saw play. I talked about the ability of players in a context that I had
a shaky understanding of. I even was intrigued by the Niners taking West Virginia quarterback
Rasheed Marshall as a receiver.

The NFL Draft has become the ultimate talk show fodder simply because the range of possibilities is
endless. No single day even has more written about it than the draft. “Experts” make their living
following college players up until draft day, figuring out where they should go and then being
completely wrong once the draft rolls around. On top of that, we, as a collective, take the “expert”
information and digest it as if it were law. To illustrate my point, how many of you here got fired up
when you found out Ernest Shazor of Michigan and Brandon Browner of Oregon State went
undrafted? I know I did.

We have to remember that when it comes to a professional draft, as fans, we are in over our head. No
matter how much reading we do and how many college games we watch, we are bound to be
confused and befuddled on draft day. That confusion is OK. People are paid to do nothing but prepare
for the draft while the rest of us have lives and jobs that include many other things.

In conclusion, all of us with the courage to come to this meeting of Draftaholics Anonymous must
remember the gospel of Jim Mora before the gospel of Mel Kiper. Every year before the draft we must
say to ourselves “you think you know, but you just don’t know.” Thank you so much for listening and I
know as a group we can fill the void we now find in our lives without workout reports and mock drafts
to read.