Shane Dunaway: NFL should consider a draft lottery

Published 6:50 am Saturday, February 26, 2022

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As the focus of diehard NFL fans shifts toward the offseason, free agency and the draft, I find myself questioning an unfortunate reality – the league’s worst teams get first dibs when selecting the incoming draft class.

These abysmal bottom-feeders of the league reap the reward of picking near the top of the order simply for showing up and playing substandard football.

While I understand this is the way the NFL has always done it when it comes to determining draft order, the current method incentivizes tanking and ruins the spirit of the game.

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Remember “Suck for Luck” in the 2011 season? The Indianapolis Colts won that rat race to the bottom. It didn’t get them a championship, but it gave them a potential quarterback of the future in Andrew Luck and a competitive advantage in a quarterback-starved AFC South that featured Blaine Gabbert, Matt Schaub and Matt Hasselbeck as starters for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans, respectively.

Luck led Indianapolis to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons. Had it not been for his bad luck with injuries, the Colts would have been primed for 10-15 years at or near the top of their division.

Without an atrocious 2011 season where the Colts opened with 13 straight losses, Indianapolis would have needed to find luck elsewhere in the 2012 Draft.

I saw a meme circulating on Facebook suggesting the NFL should get rid of the Pro Bowl and have the two worst NFL teams play for the No. 1 draft pick. Novel concept, but why throw a bacon-wrapped filet mignon between two toy poodles?

Instituting a draft lottery would take away any perceived incentive of losing for a shot at elite talent, but it would also make things interesting overall for the sport.

Imagine a scenario where the Los Angeles Chargers or New Orleans Saints, two teams that fell just short of reaching the playoffs, were on the clock heading into the draft. Wouldn’t that be more compelling than seeing which incoming talent Jacksonville decides to squander with its second top pick in as many seasons?

Before anyone complains about this being just sour grapes on my part because I root for a winner, trust me – I’m a Carolina Panthers fan. After ending the 2021 season by losing seven straight games, they sure as hell don’t deserve any charity courtesy of the draft order.

Let’s put an end to giving losers a golden ticket.