Commentary

Draft pressure mounting

Updated: April 29, 2008, 9:32 PM ET
By Mark Schlereth | ESPN.com

Editor's note: This season, former NFL player and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth and his son, Arizona reliever Daniel, will keep a running journal on ESPN.com of Daniel's season. Mark outlines what it's like to watch a son compete through a father's eyes in the first part of the series.

Well, the Arizona Wildcats are playing much better baseball. They've broken out of their slump and are really showing the true grit and character that their fans always thought they had. Before losing to two-time defending national champion Oregon State last weekend, they'd won 13 straight games. What really impressed me about this winning streak is that these weren't pushover opponents and the games weren't blowouts. This team stepped up and had to win some tight games and in doing so they showed a lot of moxie.

This is a tough time for any baseball team for a couple of different reasons. For one, this is when a team is nearing the end of the schedule and is in the midst of playing tough conference opponents. That can take a great mental toll on a team.

The second reason it's so tough is because of the pressure a lot of these players are facing because of the impending MLB draft. These kids are being asked to not only play their hearts out for their teams, but also for their professional futures. That's a lot of pressure to put on a young kid and it's amazing to watch these kids perform at a high level with scouts in the stands poring over their every action.

I sometimes wonder how some guys deal with it with their families because the draft process is one that is so stressful that you need input from those who know and love you. Last year Daniel and I spent a lot of time talking about the draft and where he might go and what he might do, but it put too much pressure on him, and we haven't talked about it much at all this season.

We feel that just focusing on the season and not worrying about where he goes in the draft has taken a lot of pressure off him this season. It's freed him up to just concentrate on pitching with his team and hopefully winning a championship in Omaha.

His mother and I don't care where he goes if and when he's drafted as long as he's happy and is embarking on a new adventure in life. I was picked in the 10th round of the NFL draft, so we know that where a player is picked won't define his career. We know that once a team sees what Daniel brings to the table, everything will work itself out.

Mark Schlereth, a three-time Super Bowl-winning lineman, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.

Former All-Pro guard Mark Schlereth joined ESPN in 2002 as an analyst for NFL 2Night, now NFL Live. He brings 12 years of NFL playing experience to the role. Schlereth has also filled in on numerous ESPN radio shows.

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