In the interest of full disclosure, I recently received a copy of Draft Season - Four Months on the Clock from author Bobby Deren who was kind enough to autograph it for me. Deren is a senior writer for Rivals.com. He also makes frequent radio and television appearances, sharing his expertise on college football.
The book chronicles the lives of four potential NFL draftees - Florida Atlantic linebacker Frantz Joseph, Michigan cornerback Morgan Trent, South Carolina wide receiver Kenny McKinley and Nebraska offensive tackle Lydon Murtha - during their four-month preparation for 2009 NFL draft. Deren does a good job of detailing their diverse backgrounds
The NFL Draft process - particularly the NFL combine - has a reputation as a meat market atmosphere. Most college fans wonder why the NFL bothers grilling players the way they do when they've already got at least a couple years of game film they could use. While I knew that players kept themselves in shape before the combine, I never realized the extent to which they go. By the time you're done you realize why the NFL does to these guys what they do with all the testing, poking and prodding. You end up discovering that, yes, the NFL draft process is a meat market, but because they're trying to buy incredibly expensive steak they're extra picky.
Nebraska fans will learn tidbits about Murtha's Nebraska career as he talks about his repeated injuries, including one suffered when a piece of practice equipment malfunctioned and severed a nerve in his leg. He obsesses about his diet, and he's called on the carpet when a Lincoln parking attendant calls the NCAA because the vehicle he's riding in is way too expensive for him to afford. Murtha's revelations make it clear that Nebraska players do indeed live in a fish bowl.
Draft Season reveals more details than just the players' training, but gives you a piece of their lives. All of them dream about a NFL career, while NFL coaches send mixed signals and cousins call to introduce themselves despite having never known the player before they were a NFL draft prospect. If nothing else, it's an interesting revelation to humanity's desire to be around celebrity.
Quite a few NFL coaches and general manager make an appearance, and not all of them in a good way. Vikings coach Brad Childress sounds like a common sense kind of guy while Michigan's Rich Rodriguez manages only a mention but comes off looking like a jerk (again).
Draft Season is a darned good read. It's well-written, although a little smarmy at times, but the insight provided gives the reader a different perspective on what it's like to prepare for the one of the toughest interviews on the planet. If you've always wondered what they really go through, this is the book you're looking for.