In most other professional sports leagues, the annual draft is one of the biggest events every single year. The NFL is no different. In the NFL, scouts work year round in order to determine which players will be worthy enough of their picks. Having said that, the last few years have led many to question whether or not the draft is really that important.
The NFL draft is often considered to be unimportant because of the depth of NFL teams. NFL teams usually have a roster containing 53 players. Because of this, teams with only a handful of picks do not have the ability to overhaul a team in just one season, and the lack of NFL farm teams makes the breeding process for futures essentially non-existent. This is not seen in other leagues. In the NHL and MLB, each team uses their draft picks to build their team and their farm team, effectively creating new prospects every year. Aside from this, because of the roster size, many consider any picks in the top six rounds to be an instant starter, which takes away from the prioritization of first round picks over others. Think about it. Richard Sherman, the now highest paid corner in the NFL and the best defensive player in the league was drafted 154th overall. Tom Brady, who is potentially the greatest quarterback of all time, was drafted in the 6th round, 199th overall, after six other quarterbacks. Because of the large rosters, the NFL is the only major North American sports league where the draft isn’t defined by the first the one or two rounds.
The biggest issue with the NFL draft is that it measures raw talent, not utility. At the combine, players are put through various tasks. They are measured in the 40 yard dash, verticals, distance jumps, and are also put through several positional drills. These tests are useful for determining if a player is a good athlete; however, they do not say much about how a player will perform. Take New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman for example. The undrafted player was written off at the start because he was thought not to possess the raw talent required to play in the NFL. Look at him now. He is currently Tom Brady’s favorite receiver. This is because during recruitment and the draft, he didn’t measure up to the other athletes, but when you look at where most of the draftees from his class ended up, it is clear that he is in a better position. Look at the Seattle Seahawks. The Hawks, who won the Super Bowl last season, have the most undrafted players on their active roster. They have players who were consistently ignored by scouts throughout their entire careers, were not invited to the combine, and were considered to be players who were more suitable for the Arena Football League. After winning the Super Bowl last year, the Seahawks have redefined what it takes to be an NFL player. In the future, look for the NFL draft to become based more on utility rather than physicality.
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