The NFL draft should be the target for the AFL. Image courtesy Flickr user mjpeacecorps

While it doesn’t get much notice in Australia, the NFL Draft is currently taking place in the United States. The AFL is in the process of targeting NFL-style media management of the off-season, with the build-up of AFL Media and the development and broadcast of the draft.

However…it’s all a bit boring. An expected draft order is already effectively known for the first ten picks before draft day.

Let me compare this for you to the NFL, and in particular the top ten draft picks. The picks, as decided upon at the end of the season, were given to:

1) Indianapolis Colts
2) St Louis Rams
3) Minnesota Vikings
4) Cleveland Browns
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6) Washington Redskins
7) Jacksonville Jaguars
8) Miami Dolphins
9) Carolina Panthers
10) Buffalo Bills

But then there’s the draft order which actually occurred.

1) Indianapolis Colts
2) Washington Redskins
3) Cleveland Browns
4) Minnesota Vikings
5) Jacksonville Jaguars
6) Dallas Cowboys
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8) Miami Dolphins
9) Carolina Panthers
10) Buffalo Bills

6 of the top 10 picks were traded. All in all, of the first round of 32 picks, 14 ended up with sides different to those that had them come the end of the NFL season.

By comparison, there have only been 10 top-10 draft picks traded between clubs since 2000, and only four in the last five drafts.

This happens for a variety of reasons. Notably, the difference between AFL and NFL are the specialisation of NFL positions, where it is rather difficult for a player to successfully play more than one or two field positions due to the different nature of their roles, as well as the high-money nature of higher picks.

But this doesn’t take away from the exciting nature of it. And there are two reasons for this.

The first is to allow clubs to make trades while the draft is underway. See a prospect you like but think a team is going to jump up and snare him? You offer a team above him a downgrade – your first round pick and perhaps your third round pick for their first round pick.

Think you’ll do better later in the draft with extra picks and don’t want to burst your budget? Downgrading a couple of slots and thus opening up for extra slots might be an idea.

However, this is coupled with the extra factor of the trading of picks for forthcoming years. To understand, there should be context. The Redskins required a particular position filled by a class player, the quarterback.

The 2012 draft had an amazing prospect, Robert Griffin III (RG3) who was expected to go early, however the Redskins only had the #6 pick.

To get RG3, they offered the St Louis Rams their 2012 first-round pick (at #6 overall), their 2012 second-round pick (at #39 overall) and their first round picks for the coming 2013 and 2014 drafts.

The Redskins viewed RG3 with such value that they were willing to give up so much in order to bring him to Washington.

Now imagine. Port Adelaide, at pick #9, decides that they badly want to bring Nick Vlastuin to Alberton.

To do so, they decide to go for Melbourne’s pick #4. They offer Melbourne not only pick #9, but also pick #26 and their first-round pick of the 2013 draft.

Melbourne still get a first-rounder, albeit later, as well as an extra one for the 2013 season.

Not only could this be the way forward, but it would genuinely bring excitement to the AFL Draft.

What do you think?