It’s just a game.
If you’ve spent any time around the game of football — playing it, studying it, watching it, listening to it, reading about it, coaching it, watching a movie about it — you’ve probably heard that expression before. Sometimes it is meant to minimize a sport that is often held in too high a regard, other times it is meant to provide perspective.
There are more important things in life than this beautiful, wonderful, fulfilling game that brings us all great joy.
That’s how I choose to hear the aforementioned statement. After all, it’s true that football is just a game, one that should always be prioritized behind the things in life we should rightfully value more. But that game has also changed many of our lives, forged many of our friendships, provided us comfort when we desperately needed it, offered a momentary distraction from a dismal experience, created incredibly fond memories and, for some of us, even strengthened our romantic relationships.
For those of us at The Draft Network, that is our undying passion. To somehow offer you, the football fan, the opportunity to experience every one of those emotions under the umbrella of what we provide as content on this site.
We aren’t delusional enough to think that writing, podcasting and talking about football is among the most important jobs in the world. Not even close. But it is what we’re passionate about, and we believe it’s what you’re passionate about, too. We’re here to engage with you, educate you and empower you to give you an experience with this great sport that will hopefully impact your life in a positive way.
To do that, I believe we’ve constructed an incredible team of diversely talented writers and personalities, all with the ability to provide you something another member of the group can’t or won’t. Yes, we are all good friends, but in assembling this group, one of the things that I knew would make it special was the vastly differing perspectives, the strong resistance to groupthink and the deep knowledge of the game to support all those viewpoints.
Kyle Crabbs, who brought me on board his highly successful site NDT Scouting, gives off the exterior of a badass villain, and if you come at his neck, you best be wearing a suit of armor. But Kyle is actually one of the most thoughtful, caring people I’ve ever worked with. He’s all about the team, continually sacrificing for the betterment of the group. His years of experience covering the draft, unique scouting eye and thoughtful takes are a huge boost to this site’s product.
Joe Marino has been a rising star in the field for awhile now, most recently by helping Kyle turn NDT Scouting into an NFL draft powerhouse. Sporting a heart of gold, a terrific listening ear and a deep knowledge of the game, Joe is one of the easiest people in the world to work with. Like me, he’s big on communication and organization. He’s also an absolute workhorse, crushing tape and ignoring groupthink like it’s the plague. When you talk about authenticity, Joe is the model of such a principle.
Trevor Sikkema, my co-host for Locked on NFL Draft and partner-in-crime, is exactly what you see on social media. Funny, engaging, fiery and a meme waiting to happen. His addiction to social media and the internet in general is real, but it has also given him a incredible knowledge base about so many important aspects of launching a website like this one. He built The Draft Network in about six weeks, pouring over details and matters of aesthetic that none of us could have understood. Trevor’s a star in-the-making, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be joining forces full time.
Speaking of stars in the making, Ben Solak (Joe’s son) will probably be our boss one day, but until then we’ll keep reminding him that he looks like he’s 14. He’s brilliant, incredibly hard working and constantly goes above and beyond the call of duty. Bringing him over with us from NDT was a no-brainer. Plus, if you defer MIT to try and cover football for the rest of your life, you’ve gotta be a little bit crazy. We like crazy.
It’s incredible to me that we landed both of them, but Brad Kelly is another young, fairly new rising star in the field. His knowledge of wide receiver play has made him a must-follow on Twitter, but I love talking football in general with Brad. He coaches college ball now, but was most recently involved at the high school level, something we shared in common and have often discussed. Brad will offer an incredible amount of knowledge about the game to our staff, including some unique pieces of content that will really raise the bar.
Connor Rogers, my longtime friend and our colleague over at Bleacher Report, was just added to the staff a few weeks ago, and not just because he has the best hair amongst all sports media. Connor’s wealth of experience with story creation and video work will add an extremely important layer of content to our site, one that will only become bigger and better as TDN grows. You’ll also see him writing a bit here and there for the site, offering some insider knowledge on the draft, as well as his own deep analysis of players. To this day, I can’t believe he’s on board with us too.
Of course, J.C. Cornell, our CEO, and Carter Lassalle our Chief Strategy Officer, have been absolutely instrumental behind the scenes in getting this product off the ground. Carter has continually offered advice, getting us started on the business side of things, while J.C. has given us the green light for absolutely everything we’ve needed and then some. We’re excited to be working with them on this outstanding project.
So now you know ‘why’ and ‘who’, but what exactly is The Draft Network?
We’ve all long believed that the draft, while a growing phenomenon as a 5+ month event, has not been covered comprehensively by any one media outlet. Nevertheless, it continues to be more-watched and more followed every single year, as evidenced by the numbers we saw at NDT, on our podcasts and of course during the actual draft weekend on television.
So, in short, TDN is everything of everything you love about the draft. We have a prospect database of over 6,000 draft-eligible players with over 250 scouting reports already awaiting your viewing pleasure. That number will climb to well over 300 by the time the season starts, and you’ll get multiple writer’s perspective on each player. By the time the actual draft is here, you’ll have hundreds of trait-based scouting reports on the most relevant draft-eligible prospects in the country from Kyle, Joe, Trevor and myself.
The TDN Bert Bell Historical NFL Draft Library is a sortable table that allows you to search any prospect your team has ever selected. Want to look up the Steelers 1990 draft class? Just type in ‘Steelers 1990’ and you’ll be able to see the whole thing. We’ve got some awesome ideas for the future of this aspect of the site, but for now it’ll serve as a helpful research tool.
Locked on NFL Draft, co-hosted by Trevor and myself, is thrilled to announce the addition of Draft Dudes with Kyle and Joe to the Locked on Network. Through this partnership, the four of us will provide you with two separate daily shows year round — before joining forces on Fridays for super shows. And boy, do we have some topics lined up for y’all.
Two of our biggest features aren’t available just yet, but they will be soon. The Mock Draft Machine should be launching in a few weeks, providing you an aesthetically pleasing mock draft simulator that will allow you to choose from hundreds of draft-eligible prospects, as well as draft with your friends.
Build Your Own Big Board will allow you to create and assemble your own big board from our prospect database, giving you the freedom to act as a GM for all aspects of the draft process. Then, if you want, take your big board over to the Mock Draft Machine and use it to draft all seven rounds for your favorite team.
Until those products drop, we’ve got plenty to keep you busy. Film breakdowns, signature weekly columns from myself, Kyle, Joe, Trevor and Connor, video work, positional rankings, mock drafts, big boards, feature content, college football coverage, NFL rookie coverage (I’m so excited about this one) and more will be coming your way from The Draft Network year ’round.
Just a game? Sure. A game we love. A game we’re crazy about. A game that has brought us all some breath-taking moments, a tradition we’re here to help carry on.
Gird your loins, folks.
The Draft Network is here.