May 22, 2015 - Matt Pearce
NFL Draft Lottery?
Tuesday night, the NBA had their annual draft lottery, which can completely change the nature of the draft. While that didn't occur this year, it has in the past. Of the four major American sports leagues, the NBA and NHL employ a type of draft lottery, while the MLB and NFL don't, preferring a draft that is solely the inverse of the standings. Could the NFL change to a lottery system? Technically, yes. There is nothing stopping commissioner Roger Goodell, the owners, and the NFLPA from doing this, but it won't happen. One of the aspects that separates the NFL from the other major American sports leagues is parity. Going back to the 2010 season, at least one of the teams selecting in the top two of the draft has gone on to either make the playoffs or still be in the playoff race entering week 17. Part of the reason for this is rewarding the worst teams with the best draft selections. In a lottery system, the team with the worst record can end up with the fourth selection. Usually a team drafting that high is searching for a franchise quarterback and in any given draft, there aren't four franchise quarterbacks. Teams already have enough trouble finding a franchise quarterback. There is no need to make that even harder. The NBA draft lottery was created as a measure to stop teams from tanking. While some teams are still employing this tactic (I'm looking at you Philadelphia), the lottery has been an effective measure for the NBA. Looking at the NFL, tanking isn't a problem. No team is putting out a roster full of scrubs in order to try and secure a higher draft selection. On any given Sunday, anything can happen. Tampa Bay owned the first overall selection in the draft, yet they defeated the AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers in week four. New England ended up winning the Super Bowl, yet three of their four losses came against teams that didn't even make the playoffs. Every team harbors playoff dreams at the beginning of the season, and this carries on for most of the year. As a fan, you can root for your team to lose late in the season, if the season is lost, in order to improve draft position. The players and coaches on the teams aren't going to do that though, as their jobs are at stake. The main reason there is a draft lottery in other leagues is to stop teams from intentionally losing. The NFL doesn't have this kind of problem, so there would be no need for a NFL draft lottery, though it would provide even more intrigue to an already dramatic event. Matt Pearce is a graduate of National Football Post's Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_Pearce13