By: Joe D.
The yearly exercise of inviting players to the NFL draft will continue in 2010. Previously 9 players were invited to Day 1 of the NFL Draft. The NFL performs a brief straw poll of GM’s to determine who is expected to be drafted in the first round and consequently avoid embarrassment for the player and the league. This year that number will jump to 18
Some will argue that there is little value to inviting players to the NFL Draft. The players may speak to the NFL brass, but most decision makers, GM’s, coaches, and scouts have compiled their opinions regarding a player and have neatly placed them onto a draft board.
When a player is drafted, they will walk onto the stage, hold up a jersey, take a photo, and then get an interview that goes a little something like this, “I wanna thank god and my coach and my mom. The __’s are gonna be happy to chose me.”
Absolutely useless. If a player could pull back the curtain and give a peek to the public, it would be both ill advised and vastly more entertaining. “Fourth overall, that’s 22 mill guaranteed! I want to send a shout out to my entourage Jackie, Jake, Jimmy, James, Johnny, Johni with an I, Jamal, Jason, Jeremy, Jean, Jai, Jesse, Joey, and Francis. We are all going to get solid gold x-boxes and Hummers. And my girlfriend, Josette, I’m breaking up with you because I can do better, much better. And thanks to my mom. Dad… I bet you wish you showed up for my birthdays now. Too late, everybody get a car but you! One more thing, Jeffy, I need an order or your finest… Ciiigars…”
Despite all of the above, I wholly encourage the NFL to invite players to the NFL Draft. When a player drops late into the 1st round, it is a painful experience. Both Aaron Rodgers and Brady Quinn had to wait hours before finally hearing their name called. In both instances, they could have been a top three pick. Falling to the 20′s is an expensive afternoon.
Rodgers was seriously considered by San Francisco
for the 1st overall pick in 2005. Immediately prior to the 2005 draft, the rumor was that Rodgers was more “sign-able”. Consequently, people believed San Francisco was settling for the lesser talented Rodgers over Alex Smith
. San Francisco management seemingly succumb to the public pressure and drafted Smith. The difference in the contract value between the first and 24th pick is approximately $40 million dollars
. 15 minutes (now 10 minutes) is allotted per pick. 23 picks x 15 minutes is 345 minutes. $40 million divided by 345 is about $116,000 lost per minute. If that’s not human emotional drama, I don’t know what is. Those on Wall Street may have had similar experiences, but it wasn’t televised for the world to see.
I personally don’t like seeing players drop; I’m not jealous of their success and upcoming riches (5 year @ 12 million isn’t a pittance). An emotional connection is made between the players and the television viewer. In a jaded world, the greater public connects with their empathetic side. Personally, I wanted Rodgers to prove his nay-sayers wrong. I wished for him to be successful and then he beat the Cowboys last year. At that point, I wished a plague on his house.
On the other side of the coin, a negative emotional connection can be made with the fans. The year Eli Manning
was drafted, he and his father, Archie Manning
, expressed the “preference” that the San Diego Chargers
not draft Eli. The reason behind this is that Archie spent his entire career with a dysfunctional New Orleans Saints
organization. It was believed by the Mannings that the Chargers were a modern day version of Archie’s Saints. Considering the Chargers record the past 6 years (12-4, 9-7, 14-2, 11-5, 8-8, and 13-3), the Mannings appear to have been naive and ignorant. Recent Chargers success doesn’t hide the decade of mediocrity that preceeded the past 6 years. This is the same team that drafted Ryan Leaf
, the archetype of all draft busts. Even more notable is that they would have drafted Andre Wadsworth
at #2 if the Colts drafted Leaf rather than Peyton Manning
. Also, the Chargers organization were fierce negotiators with their first round draft picks, leading to several holdouts by the multiple players. Most notably was the holdout of Phillip Rivers
which opened the door for Drew Brees
to start the 2004 season. Brees played well leading the team to a 12-4 record which made him the defacto starter the following year. In the final game of the 2005 season, Brees suffered a horendous shoulder injury which allowed the Rivers era to begin. With a reasonable negotiating effort elminating the delay, Rivers may have participated in training camp and been the starter for the 2004 season.
The Chargers did draft Eli Manning with the first overall pick and the Chargers traded him an hour later to the Giants. But that hour of Eli and Co. stewing is just priceless entertainment. He was a rookie. What gave him the right to dictate terms? He would have been well served to drop to the bottom of the first round, but that storyline did not play out.
So to the NFL, bring the 18 to the 1st round. On day 2, bring another 9 to the second round. Can we find out who Mr. Irrellevant will be in advance and invite him? This is reality TV at it’s purest. Though the question should be asked, “What is the draft status of The Situation?”