Potential Impacts of a Rookie Wage Scale on the NFL Draft

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Mlive.com’s Tom Kowalski put out an interesting video blog today in which he opines that a rookie wage scale could lead to more quarterbacks being taken early in the draft. The thinking is that the lower price tags associated with top draft picks skews the risk-reward equation to the point that teams needing a quarterback might be willing to reach more than they otherwise would.

The trickle down from this is that other very good players will fall to the Lions at number 13 that might have otherwise been selected in the top ten. It is an interesting theory and makes a lot of sense considering the importance of the quarterback position in the NFL. Watch three minutes of Tom Kowalski goodness below or at mlive.com:

I don’t think Tom’s theory is all that far-fetched. He was one of the first I can recall saying that Sam Bradford would be the first overall pick last year so he has certainly earned my respect as a forward-thinker in terms of recognizing possibilities that are initially dismissed by others. The effects of a rookie wage scale is something I have been thinking about as well, although in a different way.

With the Lions frequently picking near the top of the draft over the past decade, what is the first thing the discussion seems to turn towards? Trading down. The only problem is that it hardly ever happens inside the top five except for the rare occasion that a sufficiently desperate team jumps up to draft the quarterback they think is essentially perfect. Teams just aren’t willing to pay the price it would take to make the trade AND pay the exorbitant contract that a top five pick commands.

Enter a rookie wage scale. Suddenly those top five picks are more attractive because the guaranteed money portion of the price tag is much more reasonable. It is very possible that a rookie wage scale leads to increased trade activity at the top of the draft. I also acknowledge the possibility that the net effect could be nil because teams holding top five picks won’t feel the need to shop the pick due to finances. At the very least, it should lead to more serious discussions.

What do you think?

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