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Should NFL Draft incorporate aspects of MLB Draft?

Major League Baseball’s draft took place this week. Do you like any of the differences it boasts in comparison to the NFL’s Draft?

Philadelphia Phillies v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Major League Baseball Draft just took place this week. With so many differences between their draft and the NFL’s counterpart, I thought it would be interesting to compare the two and see if there are any aspects of the MLB draft that should be incorporated into the NFL Draft.

The most important difference is that one draft involves football players, while the other involves baseball players. But moving past the obvious, there are many other differences. Some of the differences between the MLB Draft and the NFL Draft, are that in the MLB Draft:

  • Players who are drafted can play in college after being drafted (they don’t “declare” for the draft and lose eligibility, but are drafted whether they want to be drafted or not)
  • High school kids are drafted, as well as juniors and seniors at four year schools, and any player at any grade level from a community college or junior college
  • The draft is much longer, lasing 40 rounds
  • None of the draft picks can be traded
  • Teams can gain and lose a first round pick based on losing/signing qualifying free agents
  • A team’s total monetary amount they can sign their draft picks to is limited to a Bonus Pool, dictated by the value of the picks they hold in the draft
  • Teams can recoup a comparable first round pick in the following year’s draft if they fail to sign a first round draftee
  • Small market teams get a “competitive balance” pick between the early rounds to help them match up with the big market teams

A few of these differences would be nice to add to the NFL Draft.

Drafted players not losing college eligibility

In the NFL Draft, as with the NBA Draft, when a player “declares” for the draft, their days of playing college ball are over. If they didn’t get drafted as high as they expected, or if they didn’t get drafted at all, there is no chance for them to go back to school and try again next year. They had their one shot and that was that. In baseball’s draft, a player doesn’t “declare” for the draft, but becomes “eligible” for the draft. Any player who is eligible is a potential candidate for being drafted - whether he wants to get drafted or not. If a player gets drafted but doesn’t want to sign (or doesn’t end up getting signed), they simply continue on with the college career (assuming they are not a college senior) and can get re-drafted the next time they become eligible. Every year in the NFL Draft, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of players who leave school a year early, expecting to be drafted high, only to go undrafted. With baseball’s system, they could return to college and attempt to improve their draft stock for the following year’s draft.

A bonus pool dictating how much a team can spend on draft picks

The NFL already has something similar to this in the slotting system, as players generally sign for an amount less than the guy drafted ahead of them, but more than the guy drafted behind him. And these amounts are typically comparable to the previous year’s amounts, plus a small increase. But baseball takes this idea a step further, and adds some flexibility for the teams.

In the baseball version of the draft, every draft pick is assigned a certain dollar value. For example, the Cincinnati Reds’ first round pick in the 2017 draft (number two overall) is worth $7,193,200, their second round pick (number 38 overall) is worth $1,802,800, and their total bonus pool from all of their 2017 picks adds up to $13,658,400. This means they have about $13.6 million to spend on all of their draft picks. So if their top pick, Hunter Greene, signs for $8 million (which is more than the slotted value of $7,193,200), they only have $5.6 million to spend on the rest of their draft picks. And if their top pick signs for only $6 million (not going to happen), that frees up an extra $1 million and change to spend on their other picks.

Most teams enter the draft with a good feel from the players’ agents as to how much it will take to sign each prospect, and different teams will use this information to pursue alternative strategies to leverage their bonus pool. Sometimes a team may take a player with a high pick who isn’t the best player available, but who will sign for less than the slotted value, so they can use the saved pool money to draft really good prospects later in the draft who are too pricey for other teams to afford to sign. And conversely, if a team signs a stud player who will command a lot of money, their next few picks may be players who aren’t very good, but will sign cheaply. It adds another dynamic to the draft by balancing signing pools with talent levels, while trying to maximize both.

A team can lose a first round pick for signing away certain free agents from other teams

In the NFL, if the Bengals offer somebody like Andrew Whitworth $7 million a year, and he leaves for $10 million a year, the team may get a compensatory pick at the end of the fourth or fifth round. In baseball, not only would the Bengals get a first round pick, but the Rams would lose their first round pick (which becomes the Bengals’ pick). Such a scenario would make teams much more wary of signing away another team’s top players. Only a few players qualify for this gain/loss of a first round pick, but it’s an interesting concept, like the franchise tag, which makes it a little easier for the home town team to keep their top players.

Teams can recoup a comparable first round pick in the following year’s draft if they fail to sign a first round draftee

In the MLB Draft, if you draft a player in the first round who you can’t get signed - either because the he wants too much money, or is a high school kid set on going to college, you receive a comparable first round pick in the following year’s draft. So let’s say the Reds fail to sign their first round pick, Hunter Greene, who was selected second overall, next year they would receive the third overall pick (2 + 1). There are some stipulations in that this only carries over once. So if they Reds use this third overall pick next year on a kid they can’t get signed, then they lose it. This doesn’t continue on in perpetuity. In the NFL, let’s say the Bengals couldn’t get a deal done with John Ross, who was selected ninth overall, they would get the 10th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. This would be an interesting tool to use if the Bengals felt there was nobody worth the ninth overall pick - they could draft a kid with the intention of not signing him, and gain a first round pick in 2018 in what they could hope would be a better draft with a better option at that spot.


Which feature of the MLB Draft would you most like to see in the NFL Draft?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Players not losing college eligibility to enter the draft
    (99 votes)
  • 3%
    The addition of a bonus pool for signing players
    (7 votes)
  • 22%
    Gaining a team’s first round pick as compensation for losing a top free agent
    (50 votes)
  • 5%
    Acquiring a first round pick next year if you fail to sign your first round pick this year
    (12 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (share below!)
    (2 votes)
  • 24%
    None of the above. I like the NFL Draft exactly how it is.
    (56 votes)
226 votes total Vote Now