Playing the lottery

It’s NFL draft time again, and so this is as good a time as any to remind you of Spurgeon Wynn, Ryan Tannehill, Giovanni Carmazzi, Brock Osweiler, Tee Martin. These are just some of the 11 quarterbacks taken before last year’s Super Bowl quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Russell Wilson.

Of course, it’s a cliche to talk about misses in the NFL draft, but as the draft gets bigger and bigger — and, honestly, it’s hard to see how much bigger it can get — it’s worth remembering that all the mock drafts and predictions and expert analyses that fill our computer screens in April add up to exactly nothing when it’s time to play games.

Will Jameis Winston succeed in the NFL? Nobody knows. Will some lucky team cash in if Marcus Mariota falls, the way Green Bay cashed in when they took Aaron Rodgers? Nobody knows. Will West Virginia’s Kevin White or Alabama’s Amari Cooper be the star wide receiver in this year’s draft? Or will it be someone else — someone taken in the fifth round? Again, nobody knows.

You would think, based on the crazy amount of attention and money spent on the draft now, teams would be infinitely better at picking players than they were back in the days when general managers merely brought college media guides to the draft. And they are better, but the right stuff is no easier to scout now than it was then.

Arian Foster and Wes Welker. Kurt Warner and Tony Romo and Antonio Gates still slide through on draft day. All while a million hopes are wasted on Trent Richardson and JaMarcus Russell. Sure, the NFL draft is a lot of fun. It’s a chance to talk football in the offseason and get ready for next season.

But let’s not pretend we learn anything. It’s like that sign they used to put on pinball machines: The NFL draft is for amusement only.

— Joe Posnanski