The NFL Draft has slowly grown into a very big deal.
It's partially because of television. Now we have draft "experts" who seem to spend almost their entire year scouting college players and doing mock draft after mock draft after mock draft. Not sure what else they do with their lives professionally, but that's up to them.
In the end, though, the draft's function actually has changed a lot. When I was in school, there were 17 rounds in it and some players made it here and there and helped a team at times. But now, teams look forward to using all parts of this seven-round draft to fill holes and complement what's on their roster.
The Ravens have been doing this more and more in recent years. Several players from their drafts come on to coach John Harbaugh's roster, and the Ravens often use the younger guys in a learning capacity and hope they can step up later.
GM Ozzie Newsome and his staff have said several times that they specifically want to pick the best player available in the first round, and there's a reason for that. The Ravens really do need help at inside linebacker, safety and a few places on offense. But by picking the best player left, it helps the Ravens keep good depth on their roster, something they've done often through the years.
So the times have changed with the draft. It used to be that teams might get a little help in spots throughout the draft in years gone by. Now, teams really look to the draft in a different way, one that's going to let them build a crux of talent instead of acquiring veterans who cost more. And they can develop more players from a younger age. The times really have changed.