I’ve spent a few hours poring NFL Draft-related information in order to be able to give you guys some impressions after the first round, and some of the ”common knowledge” has caught my eye. This is more of a rant than an actual article, but I’m sure a bunch of readers will agree with some, if not all, of the points. Here goes.
1- Conventional wisdom is hardlywise at all.
Exhibit A: Detroit needs an impact player on defense like the oxygen they breathe. Ndamukong Suh is fairly certain to be available when they make their pick, and the former Cornhusker is one of the most surefire picks to turn into a Pro Bowler in the past 10 years. Why isn’t he a lock to be picked by Detroit? Because Lions management is afraid that the pick won’t go over well with fans if he doesn’t start off his career posting ungodly amounts of sacks. Since a defensive player’s impact isn’t as easy to quantify as an offensive player’s due to the simplicity of defensive statistics, certain executives fear a fanbase will be quicker to tune out a defensive player if he doesn’t get off to a fast start. You’ve already posted a winless season, your fans are fed up as it is! Just pick the man with superstar potential and see if some wins don’t make your crowd happy.
Exhibit B: Eric Berry has just as much potential as Suh, yet Cleveland is iffy on picking him because you’re not supposed to pick a safety this high. The point is to pick players who help you win games, not to make the “right” picks. Trust, Browns management, if Berry leads a defensive turnaround and takes your team to the playoffs in the short term not a single fan will complain about him being picked too high.
2- The Draft needs a salary scale.
There is no reason at all to give an early pick tens of millions in guaranteed money. It’s fantastic that you threw for 17,000 yards and 487 touchdowns in college, but guess what? This is a different league! It was ludicrous when Big Dog Robinson wanted $100M before playing in a single pro game, and the NBA reacted accordingly. The NFL, however, seems to be intent on rewarding players for their collegiate careers instead of looking for the better business value. When the lockout comes into the conversation this season, Roger Goodell would be smart to remember that NFL franchises have been shooting themselves in the foot with poor management of draftee contracts.
3- Draft picks have too much value in the big scheme of things.
I’ll give you that Santonio Holmes’ character leaves a lot to be desired, but you can’t tell me that a fifth round pick will have the same impact in the next five years as the 2009 Super Bowl MVP. Donovan McNabb might be nearing the end of his career, but his next two or three seasons will almost definitely be better thsan those of the 37th pick this year and whichever pick the Eagles get next year. What I’m saying is, NFL executives look at “What If?” instead of focusing on “What Is” a little too much for my taste.