Max Thompson

It has been 40 days. 40 days since the world of sports was turned upside down. On the 11th of March, the NBA shocked the world by suspending their season indefinitely out of fear of coronavirus. What has happened in sports since? Much of the same.

Any major professional American sporting league that is supposed to be playing games right now, is not. Any major professional American athlete that was supposed to be competing right now, is not. However, the stage is set to bring in a new batch of pros: the NFL Draft.

With round 1 beginning Thursday, the NFL will take back the center stage of sports media in one of the only sporting events this month. No, there may not be a game being played. Nevertheless, we will see action, drama, winners and losers — all the typical components of sports.

Even though the draft will be held virtually, this is exactly what the average sports fan needs. A sense of normalcy again. Why? Because everything feels … weird. Hours turn into days, days into weeks, weeks into months. As someone who lives with March Madness as their landmark for the start of spring, I have no clue what day it is.

So, how exactly will this virtual draft actually help anyone? Well, the truth lies behind a common cognitive misconception. The typical belief is that your feelings control and influence your behavior. You feel sad, so you grab that tub of Rocky Road and your warmest blanket and metamorphose into a couch potato. While there may be some truth to that statement, it is actually quite common for it to work the other way as well.

No, I’m not saying ice cream will make you sad. What is true, however, is that your chosen behaviors can affect your feelings. Don’t believe me? Try being sad on a jet ski. Anyways, back to sports.

People everywhere are sharing this same combination of existential dread and absolute boredom. However, the draft may just serve as the cure for that disease, as the action of watching the draft is a heck of a lot more normal than the action of watching four hours of TikTok.

Luckily, this year’s showcase by the NFL is chock full of intriguing storylines.

For example, take the Washington Redskins, the owners of the second overall pick. This year, they are faced with an incredible conundrum. With the Bengals most likely to select Joe Burrow, Washington will have their pick of the rest of the field. Despite this, there are some serious questions.

Last year, they selected quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the first round. While his rookie year was not horrible, it wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring either. Combine that with a historically short-tempered owner and you may have a franchise leader who only gets a single year without competition.

There are rumors that Washington may select another quarterback, Tua Tugovailoa, with the second overall pick. This would be a franchise-altering decision. Are they really going to give up on a player that they thought so highly of just 12 months ago? Are they going to pass up on another talented Buckeye, Chase Young, in order to take Tua?

Take that movie-quality storyline and multiply it by 100. That is how many different things there are to talk about with this year’s draft.

Luckily for all of us, it makes no difference which story gets spoken, as long as one is spoken at all. The world of sports has undergone some massive changes in the past 40 days. With the NFL draft, we may be getting a glimpse back into normal life and that glimpse is one that I will surely be enjoying.

Max Thompson is a freshman majoring in business management and journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at sthomp92@vols.utk.edu. Follow @The_Out_Route on Twitter for high-quality NFL analysis!

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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