By: Steve Balestrieri
The 2014 NFL Draft will finally begin on Thursday night in Radio City Music Hall in NYC as the league will take center stage for their annual three day event. Over the years this event has become more and more popular with the fan base, far out-doing the other major sports drafting events.
The NFL is always looking to improve the event in terms of fan attraction and even tried to kick off the Draft Week with a question and answer session with Commissioner Roger Goodell under the hashtag #AsktheCommish. It even included a short video from Goodell talking to the fan base of the league.
While that particular session didn’t go as planned as it was largely overrun by the trolls that regularly infect social media, the league is usually way ahead of the curve in improving the experience for its fans. With that in mind, here are a few improvements that can be made to improve the NFL Draft and keep it on top of the “must see” events of the year:
1st Round Draft Lottery: While the rules of the NFL are designed to keep the playing field level, it often doesn’t play out that way. Fred Kirsch the Publisher for Patriots Football Weekly has come up with a fantastic idea to make the Draft an even more compelling event. He spelled it out in his editorial in the latest issue of PFW.
The idea is to stop rewarding teams that fail with an automatic pick on the best players. The first round of the Draft would consist of a 32 team lottery with each getting an equal chance in landing the top players.
With a lottery done soon after the Super Bowl, it would allow teams plenty of time to maneuver around the first round just like they do now. Imagine the drama of the lottery and the intrigue that would create. Teams like the Patriots that have had to pick at the bottom of the first round for the past decade would have a chance at players like Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel without having to mortgage the future.
Once the second round of the draft hits, the current system of picking in order of reverse finish will take place. But in terms of improving the NFL Draft, it will take it to even new heights.
Jamie Collins was the Patriots first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, who will be this year’s top pick in NE?.
(USA TODAY Images)
Move Venue Each Year: While the Draft is always held in New York City, this year’s event was pushed back two weeks due to a conflict with Radio City Music Hall. Perhaps it is time to take the show on the road.
Let each team host the NFL Draft and give the fans of every fan base the opportunity to partake in this event in their hometown. That is a sure-fire way to garner even more support for and generate new fans of the Draft.
There’s no down-side to taking the draft on the road every year and if anything it would add to the process as each host city will try to out-do everyone else to make it an even better event.
Keep it a Three Day Event: Commissioner Goodell has stated that the league is considering making the draft a four day event that would carry from Thursday – Sunday. Mark that one down in the not-so-fast category. The current system works just fine and by adding a day in the later rounds, the saturation point among the fans becomes real.
Do we really think the casual fan is going to tune in on Sunday to see who is going to be the Patriots pick in the seventh round with #244?
Currently, Round 1 takes place on Thursday, Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday and Rounds 4-7 on Saturday. Then the frenzy of UDFA signings takes place and that system has worked well. Adding an extra day or even extra rounds of the draft as some have suggested would be overkill.
And on that subject…don’t push back the draft two weeks in the future. The mock drafts and draft talk have become stale at this point and the rookies would be much better served being able to attend rookie mini-camps and getting a head start on the playbooks.
Stay tuned to PatsFans.com as we’ll be keeping readers up-to-date on all the free agency and draft news as it unfolds.
Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.
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