The increased attention paid to every moment in the NFL annual calendar has brought to light a procedure that few were aware of until this week: The NFL has a draft lottery.
Pro Football Talk reported that the worst team (the Colts in this case) is given 32 chances, the next-worst 31 and so on until the Super Bowl champion (the Giants) gets only one.
The process then breaks the teams into three groups: those with six or fewer wins, those with seven or more wins that didn't make the playoffs and the playoff teams. Each group is then drawn to determine the order within the group.
No playoff team can have higher than 21st in the process, so there is no chance that the Giants or Patriots somehow get to the front of the line ahead of the worst teams in 2011. There is, however, a chance that the very worst teams will be behind teams that chose after them in the draft this year.
This is bad news for the Colts and Browns in particular, who would be in the top four if the 2012 NFL draft order was used. The scaling from 32 to 23 in the number of chances also does not give the Colts or Browns a significantly better chance to be first in the order than the Bills, who chose 10th in the first round in April.
The most interesting aspect of this process is that it happens immediately before the supplemental draft, according to the rules.
A team in the Top 10 that is sold on Josh Gordon may have decided that it is willing to spend a second-round pick on him before the lottery. After the lottery, it may find itself behind a team that is likely to also bid a third-round pick.
Doubt could creep in at the last second about the price that Gordon is truly worth, although those teams in the bottom 10 that are serious about Gordon are probably playing out these scenarios today and deciding what to do in the event that they win/lose the lottery in their segment of the draft.
Of course, Jerry Jones could always bid a second-round pick because he is behind the entire bottom 10 regardless of the outcome of the lottery.
What seems like a minor event in the NFL calendar should inspire some deep strategizing in some NFL organizations over the next 24 hours.