Tired of searching for the latest mock drafts? Tired of hearing the latest shock jock garbage thrown out there just for page hits? Tired of trolls arguing endlessly over and over about the exact same topics? Well, I have a solution. Time to blow up the NFL draft format and bring it into the modern age: Hunger Games style.
Here we are, ladies and gentlemen: It's draft night. Madison Square Garden, however, is set up a little differently. No more green room, or team tables with more telephones than people. No more podium, and no commish. No obnoxious NY fans who boo every pick. No more retired NFL stars mispronouncing their former teams 5th round picks at the podium. And praise be, definitely no Chris Berman. Not this time. Instead, the building is empty; empty except for the top 224 draft prospects, decked out in their college uniforms, and 5 representatives (hunters) from each of the 32 teams.
The new rules are simple: The team reps all have paintball guns with 2 pellets each, for a total of 10 pellets per team. Each bullet is in a different color scheme that displays their team logo when it hits its target. And what is the target? The players, of course. Madison Square Garden has just turned into the ultimate paintball war, with the draft targets being the hunted prize.
Each team rep and each of the 224 players have a night-vision camera on them to capture their view, and there are tons of network cameras set up around the arena to bring us all the best angles and insight into the action. When it is time, a hush falls over the Garden. Deep breaths are taken, and the lights go off. There is a 5 minute period where players and teams can set up wherever they like. Hide in the bathroom? Terrific. Get in the upper deck for sniper angles? Hoorah. At the end of the 5 minute period, a siren sounds and the draft begins. If a team is the first to shoot a player, they get the draft rights to that player.
Now the players wear their uniforms for 3 reasons: First, you can tell who is who. It wouldn't do for the fringe players to put on the dreds wig and trick people into thinking they are Clowney. Second, the uniforms have a sensor that will identify which team lands the first shot to prevent disputes. When the shot is landed, that player is removed from the battle area. Finally, we don't want the players hurt by the paintballs so their uniforms will protect them.
All of the action, of course, will be broadcast live. We see the first-person views from the head cams and there is a running count of who has been hit and who is remaining, along with a summary of how many pellets a team has left. The first player a team hits is their first round draft pick, and they are slotted 1 to 32 in the order they are shot. Each first round draft pick makes the same money, so there is no incentive for a player to try to get hit first. Instead, they can try to be hit by the team they really want to play for. If a team hits more than 7 players, they will be allowed a day after the end of the draft to select their top 7. The leftovers go to any teams that did not manage to hit 7 targets.
Now all the pre draft drivel is no longer relevant. Trolls like Skip B will be rendered silent. Instead, the strategy is all about the execution of the hunt. Who are the best shooters on each team? Who do they target, knowing that all the teams will be going hard after the Clowney's and Bridgewaters' of the draft? And where is Clowney? Is he hiding in the john so the Browns won't find him? Does he make a run for the Patriots shooter and hope the Jags don't pick him off first? Does he risk hiding too well and falling into a later round? And what about the teams? Do you dare risk a Clowney/Bridgewater double shot and put all your eggs in one basket, realizing that you may get neither and lose track of the other top prospects?
And it is also a better test of player agility than the combine. The fringe players who are destined for the 6th and 7th round are trying to shadow better players and see if they can take a bullet meant for the other player, thereby getting them into a higher round and more money. Can you imagine the diving attempts to get in front of Bortles as the lasered paintball comes hurtling in? We will really find out who can get separation and who can cover.
And leading up to the draft, it is permissible for the player to have conversations with each team. Strategies can be formulated. Psst......meet me at the water cooler on level D by the corn dog stand so I can plug you first. Other teams however, can try to outguess you and beat you to the punch.
With only 10 bullets, and 5 shooters, they teams must talk by radio to keep track of their strategy. How do they decide who to shoot when they are separated? Do you settle for a slotted third rounder with your second shot or try for something better? Do you go for need or best player available? Fascinating process.
After 4 hours, or when the last team runs out of pellets, the lights go on and the tallying is finalized. The seeding part of the draft, ladies and gentlemen, is over.
But it doesn't stop there.......over the next 30 days, teams have the right to trade the players they earned the right to draft if they so choose. Here is where you get some blockbuster deals as teams can get who they really wanted.......for the right price. Shrewd front offices will outsmart the weaker teams, putting a premium on both the paintball strategy and how the trade sessions may go.
What do you think, BRB? Chime in with ideas to make it better.