Friday, October 7, 2011

NFL May Need NBA-Style Lottery System

The Kansas City Chiefs will travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts. This game could help shape these franchises for the next decade. The loser could be in the driver's seat to the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and be able to select one Andrew Luck.

Sure, it is only October but this is a huge game in the race for Luck.

Luck is everyone's choice to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft. Even if the Colts, who just re-signed Peyton Manning to a zillion dollar deal, would take Luck first overall and develop him behind the legend ... a-la Aaron Rodgers.

With the wealth of really bad teams this year, we could see quite an interesting dynamic as the season winds down. Could teams really tank their last few games in order to gain that top pick and, therefore, Luck? Do you think that would really happen? It just may.

Remember, this is the new NFL where the top pick can't demand a huge contract he hasn't earned. The top pick scared everyone off before since you could be tied into a bust for a long time (see: Jamarcus Russell). So drafting Luck for a relatively small contract makes him even more attractive. Plus in a league that is so pass heavy right now, getting a franchise quarterback is quite a big deal.

Could we see the Colts, Chiefs, Dolphins, Vikings, Rams, Jaguars, Broncos or Seahawks tank games down the stretch to get a shot at Luck? Maybe. We could even see a team like the Carolina Panthers tank games in order to get the No. 1 pick and make a huge deal to someone who falls in love with Luck.

If we see this, the NFL may need to look at an NBA-style lottery. In the NBA, teams were tanking games in order to get the No. 1 pick. It works since the No. 1 pick in the NBA usually changes the entire dynamic of a franchise (Kareem, Magic, Shaq, LeBron, etc).

While that isn't always the case in the NFL, getting a perceived franchise quarterback is what teams are looking for. In the last 10 drafts, 8 of the top overall picks were QBs (and 10 of the last 13). While not all those guys became stars (Russell, Alex Smith, David Carr, Tim Couch) there have been some big picks (Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Michael Vick, Carson Palmer, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford).

Since the NBA has used the lottery, the team with the worst record in the league has won the top selection just 3 out of 27 times. Quite amazing. While tanking does give you a better chance at getting the top pick, it doesn't guarantee squat. Imagine if that happened in the NFL.

There may have to be some changes to what the NBA does. In the NBA, all non-playoff teams are eligible for the lottery. That's only 14 out of 30 teams. The NFL has 20 out of 32 teams miss the postseason. That's too many teams to put in the lottery. Maybe all teams with losing records? Maybe just the bottom 10 teams? Who knows, but the NFL may need to implement something to keep from watching teams rob their fans by tanking games.

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