NFL First Round Draft Picks: Nobody Wants to Take the Bullet

Brian O'FlahertyContributor IAugust 4, 2009

BEIJING - AUGUST 16:  A detailed picture of a bullets coming out of a gun during the men's skeet shooting qualification event at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall on Day 8 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 16, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Are NFL first round draft picks paid what they are worth?

Some would argue that they are certainly paid what they are worth, because the market makes no mistakes and accounts for value. But at the face of it, when you put theory aside, it is very tough to argue that on AVERAGE, top NFL draft picks are paid what they are worth.


Pick any draft from the last 10 years, look at the first round picks in the draft, especially in the Top 10, and then go down the list.


You will find that MOST of these top rookies are/were greatly overpaid. True, some are underpaid, but, on AVERAGE they are greatly overpaid.


“But what about the theory? Why would a team overpay for a rookie?”—Because, and most have heard this line before; “everybody else is doing it.”


You see, if one man has a gun, and he is leading a crowd off a cliff, the crowd has the option to collectively either go off the cliff, or rush the gunman and take his gun.

But nobody wants to rush the gunman, because they will get shot, the cliff, for EVERYONE.


Similar concepts persist in the financial industry, “Everyone is making money buying up toxic assets, and we have to do the same or else we'll get behind the wolf pack.”


And in the world of contract negotiations in the NFL, the team that decides to never sign an overpriced player will never be able to sign a high first round draft pick; because they would be the only team doing it, and the rookie will hold out.


Since each team, at the individual level, is looking out for its best interest, it has almost no choice but to sign the draft pick for much higher than the draft pick is worth, simply because they don't want to “take the bullet” and never be able to sign a high draft pick.



Of course, if EVERY team decided not to sign overpriced draft picks, then EVERY draft pick would have to accept reasonable terms and play for a deal that is either incentive laden, or just above whatever a Canadian League Football player would make.


Most of course, would go for the incentive laden deal in a heartbeat. That would be great.


But nobody wants to take the bullet, nobody wants to be “the dog",“the sacrificial lamb.” etc.


Because separate individuals do not do what is in their COLLECTIVE best interest. They simply do what is in their CURRENT INDIVIDUAL best interest, which is not what is TRULY in their best interest.


They go for the quick and easy route. So therefore, COLLECTIVELY, they all get the long and difficult route. NOBODY wants to take the bullet.


Therefore, to avoid collectively continuing the “rookie bubble,” the NFL needs to step in and put an end to this non-sense. The “rookie bubble” is getting out of hand.


It is hurting the image of the game, and is certainly not fair to all the veteran players who have already PROVEN what they can do on the football field, and ergo have established a viable and true, market price.


Aren't we getting tired of bubbles?


Aren't we getting tired of being led off of cliffs at gunpoint, as they tell us “its the only way”?


I am.


Let's put an end to the bubble fairy-tale, one bubble at a time.