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10 Lessons in Being a Man From The 2012 NFL Draft

The BroGuide desk is in full draft mode this week but halfway through a debate over the benefits of drafting LSU players we remembered that we're just talking about a bunch of college kids in their early 20s. Regardless of how famous or athletic, they are still just young guys who don't even know who they are yet – and neither do the teams drafting them. They're just guys like you or me, maybe a bit younger or maybe even older. They're about to learn some make-or-break lessons about life, let's learn them too.  

 

1. It's all hype.
Is Andrew Luck the best football player in the draft? Probably not, but he is the one that everyone has decided is worthy of the top pick. It's not about whether he has the best arm, best fundamentals, or best potential – it's about perception. The way people perceive you may not necessarily be accurate, but it is what it is. It's up to you to embrace it or fight it.

 
2. It takes time to make a good decision.

Even after years of scouting these guys and months of preparing for the draft, every team will use up their entire allotted time to make a pick because a big decision requires good, thought-out decision making. As a team concerned with their best interests, you wouldn't draft a player on a whim. As a guy concerned with his best interests, don't make decisions on split-second judgment or emotion.

3. It's all about business.

All of these kids grew up dreaming of not just playing football but playing for their favorite team. Does that mean they aren't going to sign with the Browns, Colts, or Giants if they are a lifelong Cowboys fan? These kids all realize that you can't mix personal preferences with business decisions, it works the same in football as it does in life. But with less head trauma. Usually.

 
4. Sometimes you need to make a reach.

Just because you need to think through your decisions it doesn't mean that you shouldn't take calculated risks. Plenty of teams have seen high potential in guys, even if they were high risk draft picks. The important thing is to remember to make “calculated bets” and take “small risks” rather than throw caution to the wind.

5. Sometimes you need to cut your losses.

Sometimes a team's pick will come up and all of the guys they were interested in are gone. Does that mean they should settle? No, they will trade that pick for several picks later on. When things don't work out today, you need to do everything you can to have the best tomorrow possible.

6. You need to work hard for free to get the big bucks.

Everyone drafted this week has already given years of their life practicing twice a day, getting hit by huge dudes, and getting all sorts of injured for the mere hope at a professional career. On Thursday, that investment will pay off for some of them. It works the same in every industry. The entrepreneur who lives off Ramen noodles to get their business up and running. The comedian who struggles through painful open mics in hopes of one day playing Madison Square Garden. The filmmaker who makes dozens of shorts on their iPhone in hopes that a movie exec might one day see them.

7. You don't need to be the best in the beginning, just at the end.

Tom Brady was the 199th guy drafted in 2000. Marques Colston was the 252nd guy drafted in 2006. Wes Welker, Arian Foster, and James Harrison weren't even drafted. Did that stop them from becoming among the best at their positions? It's not about how low you start out, it's how high you end up.

8. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

While guys like Brady have become Hall of Famers, former top picks like JaMarcus Russell, Matt Leinart, and Joey Harrington aren't even playing football. Don't worry if you're underlooked or start out slow, that's that much less pressure you have to deal with.

9. Always remember who you are.

Teams don't just draft the best players, they draft the ones that fit into their system. A pass-rushing team isn't going to draft a cover linebacker. A pass happy offense won't draft blocking tight ends. Teams, just like people, need to play to their strengths because that's what makes them who they are.

10. Sometimes it just takes patience.

There are few overnight success stories. Most success stories are built on the back of hard work, persistence, and most importantly – patience. In 2005, Aaron Rodgers was overlooked by 25 teams and spent over six hours on national TV waiting to get drafted. Then he spent three years waiting to play because Brett Favre refused to go away. Within three years of finally getting to start, he won the SuperBowl. Within four years, his team went 15-1 and he broke all sorts of records. Why? Because he just kept doing what he does as well as he could do it until his time finally came.