Why the NFL Draft is the Best of All Major Sports

The NFL draft…..a spectacle that I believe even non-football fans should admire, and rightly so, it’s the perfect example in professional sports of how the draft SHOULD be run. In every sense, top to bottom.

First, a little background information. The draft has been in New York City since 1965 and has had to move into large venues as the event has grown incredibly in popularity, drawing in fans from all over the place who are looking for an easy reason to paint their faces and wear their favorite jersey in April. Tickets are free, but long waits in line can be expected for fans hoping to get a live glimpse of their team’s high profile picks, or to boo at their team picking the “wrong” player. Fans have to arrive early in order to attend the draft.

The current format consists of seven rounds and each time is assigned a selection in each round, with the team with the worst record from the prior season being assigned the first pick in every round. The team with the second-worst record gets the second pick, and so on. Ties are broken by teams’ strength of schedule. The Super Bowl winner would of course always pick last.

The first overall pick generally gets the richest contract, but other contracts rely on a number of variables. While they generally are based on the previous year’s second overall pick, third overall, etc., each player’s position also is taken into account. Quarterbacks, for example, usually demand more money than offensive linemen, which can change those dollar figures slightly.

Each team has its representatives attend the draft. During the draft, one team is always “on the clock”. In Round 1, teams have 15 minutes to make their choice. The decision time drops to 10 minutes in the second round and to 5 minutes in Rounds 3-7. If a team doesn’t make a decision within its allowed time, the team still can submit its selection at any time after its time is up, but the next team can pick before it, thus possibly stealing a player the late team may have been eyeing.

This happened in 2010 for example

The first reason why I think the NFL draft is the best of any major sports league is because of the age at which the players are drafted. As most football fans will know, players are drafted out of college ball and are usually around the age range of 23-24 ish. This makes for a draft that’s entertaining throughout because at this age the players are more mature, meaning a lot of the guys can come out of the draft and make an impact on their respective team that they were drafted by within a year or two at the most. This makes each team’s picks even more valuable because you can get guys deep into the later rounds who are impact players right away. It rewards the best scouting rooms in the league and as a fan, it does nothing but ramp up the intensity altogether.

As a Bears fan, (yeah go ahead and laugh but jokes on you Justin Fields will be running the league in no time) I remember the last draft when it was announced that the Bears were trading up from pick 20 to 11 to select Fields and I absolutely couldn’t believe it. This was not just because of how much skill he possesses and potential, but also simply because at the age of 22 you know he can come in and make an impact instantly. It also simply gives the fanbases of the weaker teams more hope because they know that if they can just get their draft picks right, they’ll have guys who can be effective players instantaneously.

Another great thing about the draft is the bread and butter draft order process, or should I say, lack thereof. It’s simple. The order of the selections is entirely based on the standings. The lowest-ranked team picks first, second-worst picks second, and so on. You may be thinking, “well shouldn’t that just be obvious that the worst team always picks first?”

Think again.

The NHL uses a lottery system that has received its fair share of hate, and I can’t say I disagree with a lot of it. The team’s logos get thrown into a small ping pong ball and while the teams with the worst records have a higher chance of being drawn into that first selection, there’s still much too high of a chance that a team who probably doesn’t need the best pick will be lucky enough to draw first overall.

I also just can’t help but believe that the NFL does a great job when it comes to marketing the draft. You see it all over the place when it’s coming towards draft time and everyone gets excited. Of course, the overwhelming popularity of college football helps immensely with this, because fans end up knowing every single thing about every draft prospects’ life from top to bottom.

Regardless of this, the media attention of football and the popularity that the sport has plays into what makes the spectacle of the NFL draft so good. When there is a general sense of hype and excitement, it just ends up spreading throughout each and every fanbase, with all of them hoping for a memorable draft night that will change the future of the franchise in a heartbeat, and one draft can do this because like I said, the NFL draft is deep into the later rounds most the time, filled with diamond in the rough players who can make an impact right off the hop.






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