The first curveball of the 2011 NFL Draft was delivered last week by Andrew Luck, the consensus No. 1 pick, who decided to remain in school for his senior year instead of entering the draft.But there will be plenty more between now and April 28th.
That’s because with a new labour deal still far away, teams aren’t likely to re-sign their own free agents or sign players from other teams when the usual free agency period starts in February.
This year’s free agency crop is full of recognisable names and talent, but without knowledge of what the salary cap will be, whether there will be an 18-game season, or if there will even be football next year, teams will be in no hurry to hand out big contracts to unemployed players.
That’s sure to be an interesting enough situation on its own, but how will it affect the draft? How do the 32 NFL general managers determine where the holes in the lineup are without even knowing who’s on their rosters?
There’s really not much they can do. The first handful of teams in the draft probably already have a decent idea who they might take, and that wouldn’t changed based on what happens in free agency. But after that we may see a lot more teams picking based on value and talent rather than position of need.
Many draft experts have suggested that drafting based on talent over need is the way to go anyway, so maybe all this means is that the 2011 Draft will be the most well-conducted we’ve seen in years.
For some teams, anyway. We’re sure the Buffalo Bills will still figure out a way to screw up.
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