Does the NFL draft affect the future of the Virginia Tech Hokies’ Football Program?


May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech) holds up his jersey after being selected as the number fourteen overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Chicago Bears at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

This past weekend, the NFL held their annual collegiate draft in New York City. Thousands of former players from universities all over the nation waited to see if their names would be called to achieve their NFL dream. This weekend, there were eleven Hokies who hoped to join the ranks of the Sunday warriors.

However, there were only three Hokies who heard their names called at Radio City Music Hall. In the days following the draft, six other Hokies signed free agent contracts with a variety of teams in the NFL. Every year, however, the draft brings a question to many hard core fans. How does the draft affect the way teams recruit, and how successful the recruiting process will be?

In the weeks leading up to the draft fans are bombarded with draft news and notes. The fans know the top names in the draft, but how do these top names become top names? Is it just pure skill and talent? Or is it a mixture of the talent of the player and the school he plays for?

Many times the deciding vote in a NFL war room can be where the player played his college ball. The successfulness of the college program that potential draft picks were a part of can often foreshadow the amount of success the player might have in the NFL.

Oct 5, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Frank Beamer reacts in the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

If this assertion is true, then high school recruits that have the dream of going to the NFL watch the draft to see not only who gets drafted but what schools these players came from. From year to year, the Hokies have been a college powerhouse yet they are sometimes lackluster in the draft department.

Since 1985, the Hokies have had just nine first round draft picks. This may seem like a lot but it really isn’t when you consider programs such as Alabama have had 29, Ohio State has had 34 and Southern Cal has had 33. Is it any surprise that these teams have had a great amount of success in the recruiting game as well as success on the field? Does that mean that any NCAA Division 1 program that has more first round draft picks than the Hokies will be better than the Hokies? The answer is no.

Hokie fans know first hand that players being drafted in the first round or subsequent rounds does not make winning program. However, there can be a definite correlation made between schools that produce multiple draft picks and schools that are national champions and at the top of the college rankings every year. This occurs because many of these first round draft picks were also four and five star recruits.

Sep 26, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Brandon Facyson (31) celebrates an interception with cornerback Kendall Fuller (11) in the first half against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Hokies definitely do not get as many of these four and five star recruits as SEC and PAC-10 teams, but they do get three star players that turn into very good team players. So what can the Hokies do about this trend of not getting the four and five star rated players? In one word, win. Winning will attract the best players because really, who wants to play college football and lose.

So the question remains, does the amount of players taken in the draft by a team affect the recruiting process of the school? The answer is, in my opinion, yes it does. How can a team’s ability to produce NFL talent affect the amount and quality of recruits that want to come to a university? The more players a team has drafted and that play in the NFL, the more likely a team is to get the better players hoping to follow in the footsteps of the players before them.

This fact being true will also affect the quality of the team which takes the field every week. The better quality of the team, the more successful the team will be. This also affects recruiting as who wants to come to college to play a sport and lose. If a player is not drafted but signs a contract to play after the draft, would that also make a college program look successful at producing NFL players? The answer to that queston is complicated.

For a player who wants to play in the NFL signing an un-drafted free agent contract is a way to get to achieve his dream. This route requires a lot of hard work and is not a guarantee of remaining in the league. Also, this route does not pay as well as being drafted in the first round.

So only three Hokies being drafted this year can affect the recruits brought into the team the following year. Fear not, Hokie fans, this fact will not mold our program. The Hokies will continue to push forward and develop the talent on the team. You never know next year we could have seven players drafted which can only help our team.

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