On Thursday night, 22 NFL Draft prospects will attend the NFL Draft’s first round, and that is too many.
Instead, only 5-10 should be given the opportunity to hear their names called in person by the Commissioner in Philadelphia.
Over the last couple years, the NFL has cut down on the amount of players that attend the draft. In 2015, 28 prospects were in Chicago, compared to 25 in 2016 in Chicago. To continue with the trend of decreasing the number by three, only 22 will be in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
The issue is, even though the majority of those players will be drafted in the first round, it’s still too many prospects. The NFL Draft is such a massive event that players should have to earn their spot at the Draft more so than just being a potential first rounder. In a sense, the player should be almost guaranteed to be a top 15 pick or so to go.
Why is that? It’s so we don’t have another Landon Collins, Randy Gregory, Benardrick McKinney, Jaelen Strong, Kevin Dodd, Myles Jack, Chris Jones, Reggie Ragland, Jarran Reed, or A’Shawn Robinson.
Over the last two years, 10 players attended the NFL Draft (five in each year) and weren’t drafted in the first round.
This issue goes way back. Remember in 2013, when Geno Smith was talked about as a possible first overall pick and then had to stay in New York longer than expected until he was taken in the SECOND round by the New York Jets? That was extremely awkward, and I’m sure more than a bit rough on him.
My major question is this: why are we inviting so many players to the Draft that some are forced to sit there throughout the entire first round, only to see themselves not get drafted and then awkwardly leave the Draft entirely or stay until the second or third round? There’s an easy way to fix this: invite fewer prospects!
Here are a couple ideas I have for how many prospects should be asked to attend:
5 – Only five prospects. Make it a who’s who of prospects, and only invite the best of the best. Take five of the top prospects out there and invite them to the NFL Draft wherever it is. The NFL could partner with one or multiple networks to follow each of the prospects in the days leading up to the draft.
This would create some extra buzz for the five prospects and make it more of an event when they’re drafted. What this also does is gives those prospects more of an opportunity to earn endorsements or sponsorships for their draft day outfits and accessories. This also might give ego-driven prospects an incentive to do better at the combine or in interviews with teams to earn a lucky spot at the NFL Draft.
5 – One prospect from each Power 5 conference. This would be tricky in a rare instance where a power conference doesn’t have a first round prospect. However, that’s also extremely rare and probably wouldn’t be the case in the near future at least.
In this scenario, the head coaches in each conference could come together to decide what prospect should represent them at the draft. It could be the top prospect from the conference, or a first round prospect who best represents the conference and his school as a whole.
What this would also provide is different conference networks or conference affiliated networks (see Fox and the Big 12/ESPN and the ACC) with opportunities to create programming around this prospect and the process leading up to who is named as the conference rep at the draft.
6 – One prospect from each Power 5 conference plus one player from a non-Power 5 conference. The rest of this is the same as the scenario above. If there isn’t a definite non-conference first round prospect, award the 6th to perhaps the team that wins the College Football Playoff?
10 – Double it from five to 10. With this number, networks could still pair up players to follow them throughout the weeks leading up to the Draft and at the Draft, specifically. This would make the group a little less exclusive than the five member group, but at the same time, it gives more players an opportunity to go.
Many players have said going to the Draft is a tremendous experience and teams love it when they take a player at the Draft. What this does is it also gives more players and teams an opportunity to go to the draft/draft a player at the draft and market that.
Too many players attend the NFL Draft, plain and simple. It’s painful to see a player sit in the green room the entire time and not get drafted. Even though that’s not guaranteed to happen every year, why not prevent it if possible?
On top of this, by restricting the number of players that attend, the NFL and TV networks could create programming based around the handful of 5-10 prospects that get to attend the draft, thus bringing them more revenue from said programming. And at the end of the day, isn’t more money what the NFL and networks really want?
Lower the amount of the prospects that go and stop creating awkward situations. It’s that simple.