Is there a draft in here?

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Like Jeff, I don't have a great deal of patience for the hype machine that surrounds the NFL draft. I actually kind of like Mel Kiper, Jr., but too often, even he gets caught up in the nonsense, like the idea that one or two tenths of a second stretched over 40 yards makes all that much difference. I only watched the draft for a little while today, maybe an hour or so, and in that time, I think a whopping three teams made choices, one fifth of the number of those effing l1ght c00rs commercials that showed during that same span. It'd be a lot easier to take discussion of "number of reps" or "40 speed" if they weren't punctuated with that crap.

But I rantgress.

Two points, one ranty, one not. The first is that I was mightily impressed with the good sport that was Brady Quinn. I'm no ND fan, but I couldn't help but admire his composure and good nature as he endured what was an apocalyptically bad interview with him in the green room by Suzy Kolber, whose middle name may very well be Roget. Suzy managed to craft eight or nine questions, every single one of which asked the exact same thing:

  • So, Brady, how's it going?
  • Brady, what's next?
  • Brady, what's your game plan?
  • Brady, did you plan on waiting this long?
  • Brady, you still here?

Every single word out of her mouth could have been distilled down to "Sucks, huh?" There are a number of really good people at ESPN, both men and women, but Suzy Kolber is not one of them. The train wreck was such that the NFL eventually allowed Quinn to leave the groan room.

And they wonder why a top pick like Joe Thomas would choose to go fishing with his dad instead of sitting there?

Okay. Second point. And this goes back to Jeff's comparison of the NBA and NFL drafts. Given how much is invested in the NFL drafts, and the huge deal that is made about them, one thing I've never been able to figure out is why they haven't learned a really important lesson from the NBA about the draft. Every year, the salaries and signing bonuses get larger, and every year, every first-rounder holds out until and sometimes during camp. And every year, a bunch of serviceable players lose their jobs to salary cap math. Why in the world hasn't the NFL just followed the NBA and created a rookie scale for the draft? It's bad enough that players like Drew Brees and Thomas Jones are rewarded for their efforts by not letting the door hit them where the good lord split them, because they had the bad manners to outplay their overpaid backups. But you would think that the Players' Association would want to see the majority of the cap on each team reserved for those players who have, oh, actually played?

In the NBA, you're drafted, you sign, you get to camp, and that's a league where "team" is a lot less important than the system-heavy NFL. You play well, or optimize perceptions of your upside potential, and after three years, you get a big deal. I understand that contracts are different in the NBA, that they're, um, actual contracts, but surely the NFL could figure out some way to emulate their system? Surely having an entire round of holdouts every year doesn't do the league that much good.

Aw, that's all. At least the Bears got the tight end they desperately needed.


Kiper practically threw a fit when the Lions took Johnson. "BUT QUINN IS ON THE BOARD!!!" he complained over and over and over. Yes, Mel. But like a lot of other teams, the Lions had more pressing needs like finally getting a WR pick right after four tries.

The one about the NFL draft I hate is that it takes over six hours to get out of the first round.

The NFL won't go to a rookie scale because the NFL doesn't offer guaranteed contracts. The unique dynamic of the NFL--the ability for teams to rebuild / reorganize in a single season--is tied to its flexible economy. Does it suck for the players? Yes. Tremendously so. But as a fan, I hope they never change it.

The NFL cannot offer rookies "structured" contracts because they cannot guarantee that rookies will make it to their "big" pay day. Large signing bonuses are essentially player insurance policies--its why the ultimate NFL reward is restructuring a contract (see "T.O. cries" for further info). In return for these bonuses, teams have the ability to cut players who don't live up wth minimum penalty. That's what makes football great--players live under the threat of the cut. Perhaps they could find a happy medium--say five to ten years of non-guaranteed contracts followed by guaranteed contracts. Wonder where they'd find such a system...

The hold outs are annoying. But far less annoying than watching Allan Houston, Stephon St*rbury, or Stevie Franchise playout another maximum contract with a mailed in effort.

on Brady Quinn: yes. i had been sort of halfway watching the draft w/ Mike. i said "i can't believe they make A Show out of this . . . " and he explained how massively popular it is, etc. so i kept watching, mainly to spend time w/ him. but as i was watching, the Dolphins chose Ginn. and i was watching BQ and thinking how awful that moment must have been and also how he kept it together and that it was tragic to have all of these "experts" wailing their lament and just praying they could close up on a single, silent tear . . . and despite thinking at first that this was no entertainment, i felt horribly sad for him and kept watching, hoping he'd get picked soon because of the embarrassment that was while probably "real" must surely have been (also) a function of how it is manufactured by expectation, commentary, freaking out (Steve-former-BYU'er-49er-guy whose last name i can't remember, which is weird cause he's like a GOD here in Provo. Steve Young? -- "GOD" triggered my recognition because that's how powerful SY is here). so yeah, it was cool. and i was happy to see that BQ will, after all, get to "flee to the Cleve."

The NFL does have a rookie salary pool which limits expenditures per team based on number and timing of draft choices. It's not a strict scale but it definitely limits the number of holdouts.

I think you're overstating the impact of the draft on player salaries. The consistent increases in the salary cap are more to blame, and those are the result of both ever-increasing TV contracts and the big market teams (Dallas, Washington, NY) hoping to increase competitiveness a la the Yankees---just outspend the other teams. For some, the new CBA has already extended the salary cap beyond the limits of the small-market teams, threatening the competitive balance of the NFL.

ESPN has again failed to close gap between draftniks' fascination with offensive skill players and reality. Sigh.

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This page contains a single entry by cgbrooke published on April 28, 2007 10:40 PM.

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