You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Ben Smith

  • Alford built upon Manchester stint
    Twenty-two years ago there was a littered desk and a shelf of game tapes and a VCR (remember those?) wedged into one corner, and a kid who was groomed for this but not, you know, groomed for this.
  • Deadline comes after 38 years in press box
    Today, after 38 years, I'm hanging up whatever it is a daily sportswriter hangs up. And if there is a certain wistfulness in that, there is eagerness, too. I'm quitting daily sportswriting to write, you see.
  • All pieces fell into place for Gordon
    Throwback Sunday’s in the rearview now, Jeff Gordon summoning one of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s many restless ghosts to blow by Kasey Kahne with a move straight out of 1994.

Draft gurus miss as often as a chair

– Let’s hear it out there today for the gurus, the geeks, the lab coats, the draftniks – and of course the Follicles Indestructible of Mel Kiper Jr., reigning master of all of the above.

They are savants, these men. Brainiacs. Diviners of the whims and will of 32 NFL teams, even the ones who turn their drafts over to Rex Ryan.

And you know what?

Some of them are even smarter than this chair I’m sitting in.

This chair – and this table, and that lamp – went 0 for 32 in picking the first round of the 2013 NFL draft Thursday night. That made them every bit as astute as Bucky Brooks of, who also went 0 for 32.

Charlie Casserly, meanwhile, used all his experience as a former NFL GM to correctly nail four picks. Mike Mayock went 9-23. And Daniel Jeremiah was 10-22.

Of course, those were just the guys. What about the Follicles Indestructible?

Um, … well, he was smarter than the chair, but just. He was 8 for 32.

Which of course makes you wonder why the chair, fresh off its triumphant appearance at the Republican National Convention last year, wasn’t sitting up there on the ESPN set along with Chris Berman, Jon “Chucky” Gruden and Follicles Indestructible.

BERMAN: So, gentlemen, what do you think the Browns do here at No. 6?

KIPER: I’ve got them taking Dee Milliner.

GRUDEN: (Chucky face).

CHAIR: (Silence).

ROGER GOODELL: And with the sixth pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns select Barkevious Mingo, defensive end, LSU …

And so on.

And, OK, so this is a trifle unfair, given that reading this year’s draft was like a gerbil trying to speak Assyrian. For the first time in 50 years, a running back did not go in the first round. Only one quarterback did, and it was (really?) EJ Manuel of Florida State. Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd mysteriously fell from the top five on some boards to 23rd. And Tyler Eifert, the Fort’s own, went to pretty much the only team that hadn’t come up in the conversation, the Bengals.

Meanwhile, Geno Smith, the presumptive first QB to be taken, cooled his heels in the green room all night. The Jets, who couldn’t score if you gave them a Ferrari, stock options and George Clooney’s chiseled profile, took a cornerback and a defensive tackle. A Ziggy and a Starlite were taken, but only three wide receivers.

Who predicts that?

Well. Except for the chair, that is.

Ben Smith has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1986. His columns appear four times a week. He can be reached by email at; phone, 461-8736; or fax 461-8648.