Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dan Jacoby's modest proposal for NFL draft picks:
From the NY Times article on Tim Tebow's first NFL start, "The victory meant the Broncos lost any chance at the first overall draft pick." Clearly, the NFL needs to change the way the draft order is set up. Below I offer a "humble" suggestion:

It's very simple; teams draft in the order in which they are eliminated from the playoffs.

The Super Bowl winner chooses last, with the Super Bowl loser getting pick #31. The conference championship losers get picks 29 & 30, and so on. For the first 20 picks, teams pick in order of when they are eliminated from playoff contention. When two or more teams are eliminated in the same weekend, their relative standing as of that weekend determines their draft order.

The reason for this process is simple; once a team is eliminated from playoff contention there is no reason to lose, since their draft order is already set.
I think this is a very interesting proposal and has the virtue of eliminating any perverse incentive to lose games on purpose towards the end of the season. It also puts much greater emphasis on how a team does within its own division. For instance, consider a very weak division (like the NFC West) where two teams are still battling for first place. The eventual loser might not be eliminated until week 17, whereas a stronger team in another division might have been eliminated in, say, week 16, and thus get a higher pick.

However in reply, Dan observed that, "In the stronger division that second-place team will probably be in contention for a wild-card spot -- if they're really that good."

(Excerpted with Dan's permission from a Facebook thread. If you wish to give him feedback, his e-mail link is at the bottom of this page on his personal website.)