In the grand scheme of the NFL draft, the first round isn’t really worth sweating.
The players you’ve read so much about leading up to Thursday’s extravaganza — Jadeveon Clowney, Sammy Watkins, Johnny Manziel and the rest — are only waiting to find out where they will be playing pro football next season, not stressing over if they will be playing at the next level. You could say the same for the players picked in Friday’s second and third rounds, in which NFL teams still expect to find talent worthy of making the starting lineup right away.
The real drama begins on Saturday, when the fourth through seventh rounds take place. Those are the prospects who don’t fall into the “can’t-miss” category; the potentially risky picks and fringe guys who still don’t know whether or not they’ve played their last football game.
Adham Talaat is one of those players. The 6-6, 271-pound defensive end from Gallaudet University fits the physical profile of an early-round pick, and his senior-year stats of 46 tackles and five sacks — while facing constant double- and triple-team blocking schemes — certainly hold up against some of the top defensive prospects in his draft class.
But Talaat certainly won’t have his name called in the first round on Thursday. When the weekend has wrapped up and all of the picks have come and gone, he may not even get drafted at all.
Three other facts you should know about Talaat: He played at a Division-III college, he is deaf, and he is Muslim. The role any or all of those facts play into Talaat’s draft status can only be known to the NFL personnel decision-makers who hold roster spots in their hands.
It’s safe to say the NFL has never had a player quite like Talaat, who might be getting a lot more media attention for being a trailblazer if not for this year’s draft class also including Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year who could become the league’s first openly gay player.
“I have no idea where (I will get picked),” Talaat told Ummah Sports via e-mail earlier this week. “Nobody knows until it happens. It’s all conjecture at this point.”
Talaat said he’ll be following the draft either from home or with one of his friends who is also a 2014 draft hopeful.
“Alhamdulilah, I feel good and am just trying to keep my mind off of it and stay focused on training and preparing,” Talaat said. “I try not to worry about what I can’t control.”