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NFL Draft

Should The NFL Consider A Draft Lottery?

  • Justin Melo
  • May 16, 2023
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The NBA will take a halftime break from the postseason on Tuesday with its attention shifting toward the 2023 NBA Draft lottery. The right to draft phenom Victor Wembanyama, a prospect that’s regarded as the most promising since LeBron James, is on the line. The excitement surrounding Tuesday’s lottery should have the NFL considering implementing a draft lottery of their own.

It’s far too late to consider hosting a lottery for the 2024 NFL Draft, but the impending field of potential prospects provides an excellent example of why it would be must-watch television. The 2024 draft is expected to feature a slew of high-ranking quarterbacks such as USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye. These are the types of prospects that drive excitement for a lottery.

Like Wembanyama, imagine the intrigue from fan bases with some percentile chance to land the No. 1 overall selection. A dozen franchises would cross their fingers in unique anticipation. Fans would flock to their television sets. Fast forward a few years and Arch Manning, the nephew of NFL all-time great quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, also applies to this conversation. Now’s the time.

For a league that attempts to maximize revenue at every turn, I’m borderline shocked the NFL’s decision-makers haven’t already considered a lottery. We’re discussing a league that just announced a cutting-edge deal with Peacock that will see the streaming company carry exclusive rights to a single playoff game. The deal is worth approximately $110 million, according to the Wall Street Journal

Imagine the spectacle that would derive from yet another primetime televised offseason event? The NFL is constantly searching for ways to dominate discussion boards on a 12-month basis. Here’s an innovative way. A lottery isn’t below the NFL. It would be far more interesting than a three-hour show surrounding the schedule release. The marketing dollars would explore new territory.

The NFL remains open to alternative avenues. For example, the 2023 NFL International Series will see five regular-season contests played overseas. That schedule includes two games in Frankfurt, Germany. After successfully playing in Munich last season, the league is expanding its horizons to another German city altogether. Yet another example of cutting-edge thinking that could one day lead to a lottery.

The upcoming NFL campaign will feature the first Black Friday game in league history. A day-after-Thanksgiving contest guarantees the NFL yet another day of dominance. Expect Black Friday showdowns to become an annual tradition.

The NHL recently held its draft lottery and conspiracy theorists spent the conclusion of the lottery wondering how the Chicago Blackhawks, who entered the draw with just an 11.5% chance (third-highest), ended up with the top overall selection. The Blackhawks now possess the rights to draft a Wembanyama-like prospect in Regina Pats forward Connor Bedard. 

Don’t think the NHL lottery was a success? The Blackhawks sold approximately $2.5 million worth of new season tickets just one hour after winning the lottery, per the Chicago Sun-Times. A more recent update indicates the Blackhawks sold $5.2 million in new season-ticket sales over a 12-hour period, including 1,200 new full-season plans. With all due respect to the NHL, its league-wide revenue represents a fraction of what the NFL brings in. The possibilities are endless.

For a league that constantly partakes in exciting new innovations to deliver its product worldwide, the current NFL draft system is dull and boring. A lottery would spice things up. NFL owners should pay close attention to the NBA’s production of the Wembanyama lottery on Tuesday evening. A missed opportunity will take center stage.

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Justin Melo