To an NFL team, future draft picks are more difficult to pass up than free barbecue.
It makes sense. If everybody in your fantasy league thinks they're a genius, imagine the egos on the people who get paid to make personnel decisions for real-life pro sports teams. They're all on the verge of discovering a diamond in the rough, and every draft pick represents another chance to find that superstar.
The first time I truly realized the allure of the draft pick was in 2007, when Randy Moss was traded from the Raiders to the Patriots for a fourth-round pick.
Here you had a Hall of Fame wide receiver, only 30 years old at the time and still very capable of dominating games, and yet one team was willing to hand Moss over to a conference rival for a fourth-round pick. And the team that got Moss reportedly thought long and hard about this trade. For a fourth-round pick!
Do you know who was picked in the fourth round of the '07 NFL Draft? You might remember Georgia Tech guard Mansfield Wrotto, who has played a total of 27 games in four pro seasons. Or maybe Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback, who is trying to make the Seahawks' roster as a receiver on the practice squad. The best player to emerge from the '07 fourth round has been All-Pro Ravens fullback Le'Ron McClain. The second-best player? Zak DeOssie, a Giants linebacker by trade who has been to the Pro Bowl twice ... as a long snapper.
Otherwise, 15 of the 38 players picked in that round aren’t even in the NFL anymore, and three guys never played a minute in the league. (Oakland used the pick they got from New England for Moss on defensive back John Bowie, who has played in five NFL games.)
Yet, every year NFL teams and their fans covet draft picks like Scrooge McDuck coveted gold coins. With the lockout set to end any moment now, and a fast and furious condensed offseason set to commence, a few teams will be more eager than others to pile up those draft chips. Even if they never really pay out: