OPINION: NFL’s hope to expand season, draft too greedyIowa Hawkeyes with multiple draft hopefuls
In exactly one week, National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell will announce the 2014 NFL Draft as officially open.
Young men around the country will be selected to a team with the hopes of succeeding in the sport the majority of them have played since early childhood. The draft is currently three days, but Goodell, in the current spirit of the NFL, wishes to extend the draft to four days. Another day of the draft, just like when it was expanded from two days to three, would ensure networks would spend even money for broadcast rights to the new day. This, like many other expansion hopes and dreams Goodell possesses, is overkill.
There are three expansion topics floating around the NFL right now: the draft, the regular season, and the playoffs. Extending each of these things would hurt the players and water down the finished product.
Each individual drafted into any sports league must immediately move to a new city and begin a new life. Two days was enough to leave all of these young individuals on pins and needles, let alone four. In Goodell’s tenure, the draft already has expanded and moved into prime time. Putting it on for four days is overload and will only make it something that people turn on to hear in the background while they’re doing Sudoku instead of something people actually pay attention to.
The playoffs already garner huge television ratings and great games take place every weekend. Much like Major League Baseball, Goodell wants to extend the playoff field by one team in each conference. There would likely mean only one team gets a bye week, meaning each conference would have three playoff games on wild card weekend. Those three winners would join the top ranked team (which received a bye week) in the second round, ensuring four teams would still be alive in each conference. I don’t like this because most years there are teams that in no way deserve to make the playoffs and get in anyway. Why waste everyone’s time by allowing 8-8 teams that have no chance of winning the Super Bowl into the playoffs?
Lastly, the regular season is perfect just the way it is. Extending it from 16 to 18 games only raises the possibility of players getting hurt. Injuries mean fewer stars in the playoffs and less time fans get to watch their favorite players perform. The players themselves will have their careers shortened and perhaps ended by being forced to play longer seasons. With all of the concussion and health issues swirling around the NFL, how can Goodell say with a straight face that extending the season is good for the NFL product and not just a total cash grab?
All of these things are pure and simply an effort to make money the NFL doesn’t need at the expense of the people it claims to care about. As the old axiom says, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Now, about that draft…
Top 5 Draft Picks
The top five picks in the draft will influence how the dominoes fall the rest of the way. Here’s how the first five picks would go if I had my way:
1. Houston Texans: The first overall pick belongs to Jadeveon Clowney, the 6-foot-6-inch tall defensive lineman out of South Carolina. Clowney is universally known as the most athletic man in the draft, and pairing him up with J.J. Watt will terrorize opposing teams. Plus, Houston can take a quarterback at the beginning of round two who will have just as much potential as the quarterbacks taken in round one.
2. St. Louis Rams: The Rams need to make a statement to their fans that they’re dedicated to winning. They make a splash and take Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins to solidify the receiving corps.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars need just about everything, but Khalil Mack, a linebacker out of Buffalo, will give them the pass rusher they dearly need.
4. Cleveland Browns: The Browns need a quarterback, but should wait to select their new face of the franchise until their second pick in the first round. Cleveland will take offensive tackle Greg Robinson out of Auburn. After all, a quarterback isn’t very productive when no one blocks in front of him.
5. Oakland Raiders: The Raiders just picked up quarterback Matt Schaub, so look for Oakland to select a QB in the second round. With this pick, they take offensive lineman Jack Matthews out of Texas A&M to sure up the blocking up front.
The Hawkeyes will likely have three to five players drafted this season. However, tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is likely the only sure thing. After drawing many comparisons to Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller, Fiedorowicz’s strength and catching ability will likely drive him up into the third round. Linebackers Christian Kirksey and James Morris also have excellent chances of landing on an NFL roster this spring.
By Allyus Fritz, Ledger sports editor