SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— “I’m looking forward to the NFL Draft, but I look forward to it every year. I always have. It’s just gotten to be so big now,” John Madden told the KCBS morning crew. “There’s a lot of build up and you kind of get more excited about it than the reality of it. When the reality hits you think, ‘this is kind of boring.””

Of the record 73 underclassmen in this year’s NFL draft, nearly two dozen have been projected by at least one analyst as having a chance to go in the first round.

“You don’t really know any of the players until your team picks a guy,” he continued. “Many are saying Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel will be the first to be picked. This year I anticipate a lot of lineman as the top picks.”

There’s no high-profile quarterback destined to go No. 1 and instantly become the face of a downtrodden franchise. There’s not even a running back or wide receiver worthy of the top overall pick, someone with the kind of swagger that wins over fans weary of losing.

Even without the obvious stars, Madden said the event has become a lot more glamorous since his days coaching the Raiders.

“It was before cell phones and the internet and the draft was held on a weekday starting at 9 o’clock in the morning in New York. They’d have it in a conference room with a telephone on speaker phone. We’d actually be one of the few teams that would leave it on speaker phone the whole day. Other teams would just call in when it was their turn and hang up. We would actually listen in as other teams would take players off the board,” he recalled.

“It is a lot like Christmas as a kid and you get the players as a gift. I remember my first year I thought we were going to get every one of them. I think we ended up drawing 26th pick and the top guy would already be gone. I would get upset over every player that would get drafted,” Madden remembered.

“There wasn’t much competition in drafting players from the smaller schools. We mostly talked to the coaches and kept notes on who they said were their best players and the best players they played against. It was like keeping a scout’s diary. Sometimes it would take a few years for those notes to come into play.”

This year’s draft begins at 5 p.m. Pacific Time Thursday.

(Listen to the John Madden segment live weekday mornings at 8:15 on KCBS All News 740 AM/106.9 FM.)

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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