April 02, 2009
In case the NFL didn't already know it (and I'm pretty sure they do), here's a pretty good sign that their draft set-up is all whopperjawed: NFL columnist and former player Ross Tucker suggests that the best strategy for the Lions, first up in the draft, is to simply let the clock run out and just chill for an hour or so. And he's absolutely right.
Here's his rationale:
The money paid to the top five rookies has gotten so steep that this approach could be a legitimate option for a team. With the top pick, the Lions are looking at doling out a contract upward of $35 million in guaranteed compensation. (The top pick last year, Jake Long, got a five-year, $57.75 million deal from the Dolphins, with $30 million guaranteed.) The Lions are smart enough to negotiate with a couple of the top prospects in an effort to leverage them against each other and wrap up a contract before the draft, but maybe they shouldn't bother.
If the Lions would truly be content with any of the aforementioned four players, there's no need to waste time negotiating or spend top-slot money when they can simply let the clock run out and take one of the other players a pick or two down the line. Over the last few years -- differences in contract length aside -- every subsequent pick in the top five of the draft has ended up commanding around $2 million less in guaranteed compensation than the prior pick. That means the Lions could save a cool $4 million at least by letting the Rams and Chiefs pick first, while still landing a very good player who they were considering taking with the top pick anyway.
Yep. It makes perfect sense. As a matter of fact, in that context, it seems crazy to pick first.
And how awesome would it be if everyone refused to pick first? The clock just kept running out and running out and running out, and before you know it, four hours have passed, no one's made a selection, and Mel Kiper has snapped into a fit of rage, tearing his shirt off, destroying the draft podium and groping Matthew Stafford's mother. That would be fine TV.
You probably recall that the Minnesota Vikings "passed" on their pick in 2003 and let a couple of other teams pick ahead of them before making their selection. A lot of jokes were made at their expense, but that's because it was perceived that they simply weren't ready and accidentally let the time pass.
The Lions could probably avoid that if they announced their plans ahead of time and told everyone they wouldn't be picking until four or five teams had already gone. Some people wouldn't like it, but I think most would completely understand that it makes financial and football sense.
Gracias, With Leather.
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