Somewhere in that sweet spot between watching the outlandish outfits on the red carpet and waiting for the inevitable Jared Goff – Carson Wentz 1-2 punch combo, we were treated to some unscripted Hollywood drama. Gas masks, bong hits, social media accounts hacked, extortion, under the table cash payments. The 2016 draft had developed a severe case of Tunsilitis even before the Goodell gave out his first bro hug of the night.
Laremy Tunsil, the mountain of a man and the best available talent in the draft according to many projections, saw his prospects of being picked in the top 5 go up in smoke (literally).
Evidently, after the recent flurry of domestic abuse scandals, NFL franchises have adopted a “broken windows” policing style when it comes to selecting talent. In essence, the draft process implies some form of risk taking. There is no such thing as a “safe” pick. Some picks just feel safer than others. To be successful in the league, teams who do the drafting need employ risk management techniques and optimize their Risk vs. Reward models. The merits of each of the top 12 picks are debated all over your TVs and media outlets, but one thing is pretty clear: the first 12 teams placed a high premium on having a squeaky clean record off the field. No risks taken whatsoever when it comes to off the field issues. Apparently teams are more inclined to sign players with a history of domestic violence (Greg Hardy), then draft a young man projected to be a generational talent at his position, who puffed the magic dragon in a moment of youthful exuberance.
In other news related to strangely conservative decision-making, all 31 teams (New England was docked their first round pick) passed on two high-risk, high reward linebackers: Jaylon Smith and Myles Jack. Myles Jack’s slide into the second round was particularly frustrating to watch from a human emotion perspective and almost maddening from a “how not to run a franchise” perspective. All 31 teams refused to draft a transcendent athlete who fits all requirements for a Pro Bowl linebacker in today’s NFL, just because he may have a knee condition that would force him into an earlier retirement down the road.
Myles Jack is ready to play day 1. Players who are certain to miss the entire upcoming season were picked ahead of Jack. GMs and player personnel must be under the false impression that they have tremendous long-term job security if they are that concerned about an injury that may flare up years from now when most of them will be in different roles anyway.
For a league modeled on machismo and high testosterone, the decision-making during this year’s draft unveiled a serious lack of stones.