Why The NFL Really Needs a Draft Lottery

“This is a great-to-be-alive kind of moment” said Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

jags trevor lawrence
The Jags drafted generational QB Trevor Lawrence at the 2021 NFL Draft. It was a historic moment for Khan and the franchise. Having that pick gave them the ability to hire Urban Meyer. Suddenly, the NFL’s worst-run franchise in the smallest city with the smallest fanbase is now the envy of the pro football world.

None of it feels right.

Khan has terribly mismanaged the Jags for far too long. Just a few years ago, the team was in the AFC Championship Game, taking the Patriots to the limit, and felt like a potential perennial contender. Instead, Khan led the team straight into the dumps with bad hires, bad signings, and bad decisions. Everyone of consequence left. The team hit rock bottom in 2020, winning only one game.

The reward for this epic failure was the top pick in the NFL Draft.

Jacksonville, of course, is not the only pro sports team that the Khan family has screwed up. Currently, its Premier League club Fulham is on the verge of relegation after its first year back in the first division.

In England, there are dire consequences for failure at sports. In the United States, there are only incredible rewards.

As a Jets fan, the 2020 season was a weird one for multiple reasons, but most specifically that it was in my best interest to root against them every week. Because of their opponents, the Jets would’ve needed to finish 0-16 to get the top draft pick and, for a while, that looked possible. Then, they did the unthinkable, and won. It was the worst that could happen.

stupid jets won 2020
I don’t know how much more clearly this needs to be said, but losing should never, ever, ever be rewarded in sports.

The Jets won’t have Trevor Lawrence under center next year. They will have Zach Wilson. I’m not particularly enamored with Wilson, to say the least. Even if he does live up to his potential, he’s still not Trevor Lawrence.

This is a long-winded way of saying the NFL needs to fix tanking in the league immediately and that begins with a very simple step – a draft lottery.

First used by the NBA in the mid-1980’s and also adopted by the NHL, the draft lottery has lessened the impact of tanking. Sure, teams still tank for better odds of the top pick, but nothing is guaranteed. I would much prefer a pure draft lottery, still what we have is not too bad.

The NHL draft lottery, for example, is only a lottery for the top 3 positions and the rest of the non-playoffs team not selected are placed in order. So, if lightning struck and the Jags didn’t get any of the top 3 picks, they would end up picking 4th. That’s still a very good draft pick for a very terrible team without the guarantee of getting to change your franchise because you were so awful.

The notion of tanking in the NFL is only going to become more pronounced with a 17-game regular season, which will provide more teams more opportunities to tank as a playoff berth is hopelessly out of reach with several games to go.

Do I think the NFL will do anything? I do not. They don’t care. If anything, the Jaguars getting Trevor Lawrence only helps their bottom line. The Jets, by playing near New York City, will always command attention. The Jags are irrelevant. Or rather, they were irrelevant.

Now, Roger Goodell gets Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence together to prop up what would likely be considered the 32nd of 32 teams when it came to excitement. The NFL just got another draw to feed its TV machine.

Shad Khan said the draft pick of Trevor Lawrence was the best thing that’s ever happened to the franchise. And they only got there because he was the worst thing that’s ever happened to the franchise. God bless America? 

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