(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
What if the NFL
draft simply disappeared?
The NFL draft started in 1936, probably as a result of an increase in the number of teams joining the league, and an effort to give new teams a chance to sign top talent, hence creating more competition and building the NFL brand.
The introduction of the draft also occurred at the same time as Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal initiative. The New Deal implemented federally funded socialistic-based programs in order to put the country back on track after the Great Depression.
Since 1936, exactly 73 years ago, the NFL has become a multi-billion dollar sports and entertainment industry that has outgrown the antiquated system of the NFL draft.
The draft has become a comical playground for manipulative Super Agents to flex their negotiating muscle.
Owners, fans, and the league have been subjected to this high-flying money grubbing act on an annual basis.
The money gets bigger, the holdouts last longer, and the fans get nastier.
Untested rookies make top dollar while veterans, who have helped to fortify the league with their service, are stuck looking over their shoulders in envy.
Not to mention, ticket prices increase in order to compensate for these astronomical salaries, and we are starting to see more and more, glimpses of young players protecting their bodies on the field in order to protect their contracts.
This type of behavior negatively effects the overall product of the game. And it will get much worse before it gets better if something doesn't change.
First step? Abandon the draft.
As already stated, the draft intends to give less successful teams an opportunity to better themselves.
However, teams are now forced to outlay huge sums of money on unproven talent at the top of the draft, and the results are not always game changing.
Examples in past years include: Lions WR Charles Rogers, Browns QB Tim Couch, Bengals QB Akili Smith, Texans QB David Carr, and Bears WR David Terrell.
Can teams maintain a high level of success without picking in the Top 10 on a regular basis?
Brady went undiscovered in the 2000 draft until the Patriots
pick him in up in the sixth round with the 199th overall pick!
Moreover, The Patriots have picked only two players in the Top 10 of the draft in the last ten years:
1) NE picked five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All Pro Defensive Lineman Richard Seymour with the No. 6 overall pick of the 2001 draft.
Many draft analysts consider this pick to be the best overall No. 6 pick of ALL TIME.
2) LB Jerrod Mayo was picked with the 10th overall pick in 2008. Mayo received Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2008 after recording 100 solo tackles and 28 assists.
So much for Top 10 draft busts.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
and management have also built the Patriots into consistent winners largely because of free agency. Examples include: Jabar Gaffney, Junior Seau, Sammie Morris, and Adalius Thomas.
One can start see a trend here.
Belichick utilizes the draft to his liking, but not as a desperation device.
He also finds the players in the draft which match the personality of his team, and he's not interested in signing top talent that will not work well in his system.
Therefore, why not just get rid of the draft all together and start a free agent market for college players to sign with teams of their choosing?
Belichick could just as easily have recruited Seymour and Mayo out of college to come play for his team, minus all the obstacles that have been created by the manipulation of draft Super Agents.
Like in all sports, these players prefer to play for the coaches and organizations that match their personalities and give them the best opportunity to win a championship.
How many times throughout history have we heard about players taking a cut in pay in exchange for an opportunity to win a ring?
Based on this, the NFL could adopt a recruiting system similar to college football or simply re-invent it's own free agent recruiting programs to sign up college players.
Possible immediate affects of such a move?
1) Removal of the slotted draft system.
2) Equitable wage scale systems for rookies and veterans.
3) Increased pressure for NFL teams to improve and maintain their competitive advantage.
4) Improved relations between ownership and players, minus the Super Agent.
In conclusion, the NFL has established a mature global brand which demands an assertive and confident strategy for dealing with player contracts in today's marketplace.
Dumping the draft will be a good first step in creating a more enlightened strategy for years to come.