The NFL likes to have a green-room full of prospects at the draft. But the entrance should include not a sign but a disclaimer: “Just because you’re here doesn’t mean you’ll be taken in the first round.”
Five of the 21 players invited to the first night of the draft, nearly 25 percent of them, weren’t drafted in round one.
From the NFL’s perspective, it’s better to have too many than too few candidates to walk across the stage and get a bear hug from the Commissioner (or, as the photo of Christian Wilkins and Roger Goodell shows, committing a pre-emptive violation of the Personal Conduct Policy). After all, the ultimate reality show’s ultimately reality show needs props, and it’s better for a prop to not be used than for a prop to not be available to be used.
So maybe the NFL isn’t concerned if guys whose first-round fantasies are fueled by an invitation to the draft end up sorely disappointed. But maybe it should be. And maybe it wouldn’t be all that hard to better refine the process for picking players who should be invited to the draft.
For example, I didn’t have to make many calls to trip across a very real question as to whether much-hyped Mississippi receiver D.K. Metcalf would slide into round three, and I don’t carry anything close to the weight of Big Shield when making those calls.
Ultimately, Metcalf went with the last pick in round two, a full 19 spots BEHIND JoeJuan Williams, who was invited to the draft specifically for day two.
The fact that the NFL didn’t know what was coming for Metcalf underscores the reality that it errs on the side of loading up the green room, regardless of how many will be sitting there for four hours on Thursday night, waiting for a phone call that never comes.