We are two days away from the start of the 2014 NFL Draft, and the Texans (and everyone else) can see the finish line after a grueling five-month process. Two nights from now the Texans will finally make a pick, ending the non-stop speculation of who the team will take at number one. Or they'll trade it. Either way, at least we will know something.
Having the top selection makes the draft essentially about you, since no other team can make a choice (unless they trade with...YOU) or begin to weigh their options until Texans general manager Rick Smith makes the call (literally). For the Texans organization, Thursday night will see the dominoes begin to fall into place after what has been an event filled offseason.
What I've learned during this process is that the NFL has no boundaries, and the amount of interest in college prospects and their professional futures brings the perfect mix for many sports fans in the country. It is football and the future.
Case and point.
This past weekend I traveled to Daleville, Alabama, a small town of 5300 nestled in a quiet corner of southeast Alabama. Daleville is where I spent my formative years, moving there from the Bronx, New York when I was nine years old. I went to high school there, and most of my immediate family calls the Wiregrass (look it up) home.
Daleville is the kind of place where you can't go five minutes without seeing someone you know. After a greeting, you immediately pick up a conversation as if it hasn't been 10 years since you'd last seen them. Football, like in most areas of Texas, is a religion, with former NFL standout Tony Richardson, a Daleville graduate, considered a living legend.
For the three days I was in town, 95 percent of my conversations revolved around one thing. They usually began like this...
"Eric, it is great to see you. Who are your boys going to take in the draft?"
Perhaps it shouldn't have surprised me, but it did. Even in a town four hours away from the nearest SEC campus, in a city with no affiliation to professional football, that was the question I repeatedly got asked. College football's passion and the NFL's preeminent stature have combined to create a title force of fan interest. Everyone wants to know who's name will be called first on Thursday night.
For those that asked me, I usually replied with some variation of the same answer, "We'll see." I think many hoped that my affiliation with the team would give them some inside information, but unfortunately my office is on the other side of the building from Smith's.
Johnny Manziel threw for coaches, scouts, media members and President George HW Bush on Thursday at Texas A&M as part of his Pro Day. View photos here.
The good news is that 'we will see' in 48 hours. The countdown ends in two days.