Thursday, December 31, 2009

The NFL Draft (Vancouver Edition)

I'm in the middle of the 2010 NFL draft.

I had the #1 pick, because the Lions were--much to my virtual shame--0-16. That's right, I couldn't win a single game with their roster (no free agent signings allowed before season one) and my sliders.

The first thing I did, of course, was trade the pick. Having the #1 pick in the draft is a loser's play, particularly if you don't need a quarterback (Eli 8.4 would kill me if I traded Matthew Stafford). I dangled the pick and Tampa Bay came running.

No, I didn't rip them off. I checked the standard NFL draft pick value chart (see here) and calculated a fair trade, which gave me two extra draft choices. I basically need to replace at least ten starters, so I need quantity, and some of the marquee positions are far too expensive to fill via free agency.

The way Madden handles the draft this year is very slick. Here, take a look:

There's the standard draft information (who's on the clock, round, pick, time remaining) on top, with a ticker running at the bottom with latest pick selections and round summaries. In the middle of the screen are several windows with toggles--the "Available" list of players on the center-left can be filtered by position, by scouting information, and by team. The "Attributes" window on the right (which gives you information on the currently selected player) can be changed to list scouting information you have on that player, free agents currently available at that position, a list of your draft picks, a list of your team needs, or a breakdown of your roster by position.

Picks take place about every fifteen seconds, unless you're on the clock, when you can take your full time allotment if needed. Damn, a strong safety I really liked just got picked in the third round, ten picks ahead of my fourth rounder.

If you want, you can sim ahead to your next draft pick, but I really enjoy watching players get taken and sweating out whether I guy I want is still going to be available. There was a wide receiver I really wanted in the second round, and when it got within three picks of my slot, I strated trying to trade up (offering fair value in later picks) just to be sure I got him.

Every team stoned me.

Fortunately, though, he was still there when my pick finally came up. It's also fairly dramatic when you have a guy spotted as a possible late round sleeper, but you have to wait out several rounds to see if he'll fall to you.

There's something else about how the draft functions that's highly appealing, and I'll give you an example. With the second pick in the first round of the draft, I took a left tackle that was listed as a probable "top five" pick (in the first round) by the draft hive mind.

Later, in the first pick of the fifth round, I reached to take a guy that I had scouted and really, really liked, even though he was listed as a probable 6th round choice.

Until you sign players after the draft, you don't see their actual ratings (1-100) and potential (A-D)--all you can see is their scouting information, if you scouted them, and their performance in various drills at the combine. Once their ink hits a contract, though, the cards are turned over, so to speak.

That top five pick? He cost me almost fifty-four million dollars for a six year contract. I almost had a stroke, but that's about what the second pick in the draft would be worth. He's currently rated a 76 and has "B" potential. He'll be a nice, solid starter, but I overpaid. Badly.

My fifth round pick that I liked so much after scouting him? He signed at $310,000 a year for three years. No bonus. Oh, and he's an 82 with "A" potential. Great pick.

Of course, I also picked a guard two rounds earlier who has "D" potential and was rated much lower.

Here's a nice touch. After I found out that I drafted a guy in the fifth round who should basically be an All-Pro guard in the future, I decided to see how much it would cost me to sign him to a six-year contract. However, once I know his potential and ratings, so does his agent, because it was going to cost me over forty million dollars for six year. Well done.

Sure, you could just sign every low draft choice to a seven-year contract for the league minimum with no bonus, then just cut guys who don't wind up having good ratings or potential, but what's the fun in that? Much better to just have a house rule that you can't sign anyone to longer than a three-year contract if you're offering the minimum.

That will cause some (good) pain.

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