The NFL Rookie Draft does have a few issues with it... mostly from columnists who sit around griping that it's a "Non-Event" and over-hyped. In truth, it's a fan-friendly event because the way teams draft lets the fans get a better feeling about how their teams are gonna do next year (we drafted Freeman?! We TRADED UP to draft him?! AUUUUGH it's a Rebuilding Year for certain...).
Think of it as an 'advertisement' for the coming Autumn ("Look at me, now look at your team, now BACK to me! Sadly, your team hasn't drafted me, but if they did draft me they would smell like me! Look down, now up! You're on a Pirate boat, with the man your team could have drafted! Look at your hand, now back up! I have it, it's an oyster with the season tickets to that thing you love! Look again! The thing is now a Super Bowl diamond-encrusted ring! Anything's possible if your team drafts me! I'm on a Bronco."
I digress. This is why the Draft can be fun.
But the Draft Day itself, well... It has problems. Problems that need fixing, as such:
1) Hosting the First Round on a Thursday night?! Here are a handful of problems right there: this is both a Work Night (gotta work Friday) and a School Night (classes early Friday morning). You cannot expect families to stay up late watching this program, no matter how the TV networks claim that prime time hours are best. The other problem? Fans are conditioned to their football events being on these days: Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Saturday works great for the First and Second Rounds because A) we can plan on taking the whole day off to head to a sports bar and hang out with like-minded psychos, and B) we can plan on taking the whole day off to eat chicken wings and drink beer! Late weekday nights are why baseball is having a hard time with TV ratings: sporting events are better on weekends or late afternoons. Move the First and Second Rounds back to Saturdays, and the later rounds to Sundays.
2) Why does it always have to be in New York City? Yes, the league offices may be located in downtown New Yawk, but for crying out loud we have the technology to where we can host things in the middle of deserts! Constantly hosting the Draft in NYC means we get the same bleeping annoying fans on ESPN every year: stupid ass J-E-T-S fans booing their top round picks, Giants fans shrugging off their top round picks, Philly fans rioting over McNabb getting drafted, and for some reason Redskins fans sitting quietly in their Hogette outfits wondering if their rouge is running. It's the same crowd of fans, doing the same fannish things of booing Jets picks. Sigh.
In the same way the league can send their Super Bowls to different cities every year (although we've gotten into a cycle of Miami/New Orleans/San Diego/Tampa/Phoenix/Anything south of Tennessee where a new stadium got built) we can send the draft to different fan cities every year as well. Just think: one year, we're in Green Bay! Next year, Denver! Maybe Washington! Boston! Cleveland (don't knock it, it's tourist-friendly nowadays)! Any place where they can't really host a Super Bowl (winter towns mostly) they can host NFL Draft days. Teams can still have their 'war rooms' back at base HQ. The league gets to head to fan-filled areas across the nation to show how football is America's favorite sport. Fans don't have to worry about traveling to New York every year (gets expensive, trust me) and can wait for the show to come to them.
3) Every year over the past 5-6 drafts, we've had the dreaded "Green Room Wait." Where a highly-touted rookie pick (usually a QB, sometimes a RB or WR) suddenly slips off the draft board and just sits there forlorn and alone because the six or seven other guys invited to the Green Room got drafted twenty picks earlier. The most infamous waits were Aaron Rodgers and Brady Quinn, but even guys like RB Steven Jackson waited forever as well. Fans are now expecting it, and let's admit, this is a huge downer (or a huge case of schadenfreude if you're a college fan from a rival school). People are already putting bets on how long Tim Tebow is gonna wait this draft year...
Best possible solution has two parts. Part One: Invite the top three scouted players at each position except Punter/Kicker (as we all kinda know don't get drafted First Round... unless the Raiders get that crazy again!). While there's no guarantee all of them will get Drafted in the First, it expands the number of people waiting in the Green Room and lessens the risk of a forlorn mopey guy going all Emo on us. Part Two: Don't have them sitting in the Green Room the whole time. Get them to work the crowds, send them out (guarded, to prevent risk of crazy stalker attacks of course) among the fans signing autographs or posing for pics. Don't have them sit there the whole, and keep the crowds pumped.
4) Having sat in person at a Draft, I gotta say one thing: sitting there gets a bit dull. Just watching the picks go one after another, I say we need to have a few other things to occupy us.
They're called game consoles. It's called EA Madden (Insert Year). It's called Multiplayer tourneys. We're there for some football one way or another, so feed the need!
NOTE: I attended the 2002 Draft. I'm not sure what programs/activities they have nowadays at the current drafts, all I know is they didn't have a gaming pavilion when I was last there. If they do have one now, coolness. If not, they need to add this.
P.S. having the rookies play a few rounds while they work the crowds a'la Item 3) that would be bonus.
5) If Mel Kiper gets more than 5 projected First Round picks wrong, he shaves his wig. Live. In Person. By a blind man.
Okay, that's how I would fix the NFL Draft.
Any comments are welcome.