The concept of a professional sports draft has always been intensely fascinating to me. In theory it offers an ideal method to ensure that competitive balance remains in a league, particularly when combined with a salary cap. Seeing Juventus win their 7th Serie A title in a row recently makes you think what soccer in Europe would be like if youth development was handled by schools and not professional teams and the best players divided up by draft. It’s clearly not possible, but it would sure be interesting!
The Draft is a long and detailed account of the 2005 NFL draft told through the experiences of key people at every level – top 10 draft picks, lesser players, Atlanta Falcon’s General Manager, coaches and a whole host of sports agents. It’s a very thorough account that covers every aspect of draft day preparation by all those whose futures are heavily tied up with this two day extravaganza.
It is an interesting read and certainly achieves its goal of shining a light on the draft process. Reading it at more than 10 years remove is fascinating with some players being instantly familiar from their subsequent achievements in the NFL – particularly someone like 49er’s great Frank Gore who didn’t get picked up until the 3rd round.
The book’s length however becomes a weakness. There is a lot of repetition gets tiresome if you read the book over a fairly short period.
The other big weakness of the book is the excessive focus on agents. While the coverage of the role of agents and their interaction with players is interesting, there is far too much focus on which agents were successful in building their own rosters of players. It’s very hard to care about which salesman managed to get himself a big payday and the book would have benefited from a lot of this material being cut.
All in all, however, it is an interesting and enjoyable read. It may inadvertently work best as a book to dip into – like a series of newspaper columns – otherwise the excessive detail and repetition could get annoying.