You ever meet a scratch-off person? My grandma was a scratch-off person. She'd rather spend 20 bucks a day on scratch-offs, in hopes of hitting it big and - in her words - take her grandkids to Disneyland, than save that money for a year and actually take us to Disneyland. She's gone now, god rest her soul, and I've still never been to Disneyland.
My grandma would've loved draft picks. The great unknown. The allure of hitting it big. What a rush it must be to call up, say, Kyler Murray and inform him you're betting your entire career on him.
But, some of the less emotional general managers in sports have started to cash in on that seduction for a sure thing.
Take Daryl Morey, the trailblazing general manager of the Houston Rockets, who once said draft picks "are sort of like cigarettes in prison, they have dual use." Morey hasn't had a 1st-round pick to draft since 2015, because he's used them all to acquire star players, and role players. The Rockets have in turn been in contention to win the NBA Title each of the past five seasons, though they've never been able to topple the home-grown Warriors or Spurs.
Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has already cashed a maybe in for a definitely this offseason, trading a 2nd-round pick and David Johnson for DeAndre Hopkins, and he has the chance to do it again before the NFL draft on April 23.
Yannick Ngakoue wants out of Jacksonville, and the price tag on him may only be one 1st-round pick, considering Michael DiRocco's report that the Jaguars haven't received a single offer for him yet.
Ngakoue is 25-years old, has missed one game his entire four-year career, and averages 9.4 sacks per year.
What better time to offer a maybe for a definitely than now, when NFL teams are barred from doing all the pre-draft preparation they're accustomed to due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Besides, by the time the Cardinals will be selecting, they won't be able to find a pass-rusher as polished as Ngakoue anyway. The 2020 draft is considered volatile after sure-thing Chase Young, who will be gone before the 8th pick comes around.
Do the Cardinals have the money to give Ngakoue the long-term money he wants? They could find a way, whether it means backloading it, or by some other front office maneuver. They have until at least next offseason to get a deal done with DeAndre Hopkins, and they are uniquely positioned to spend big until Kyler Murray reaches his second contract. Now is the time to strike big on in-their-prime free agents, like the Rams and Chiefs did to achieve their Super Bowl run.
Will the fans love this? Who cares. It would make the first night of the draft uneventful for them, but they'd be satisfied once they witnessed a transformed defense, featuring two of the league's most productive pass-rushers, a revamped inside linebacking core, and a promising secondary.
I wonder if Steve Keim buys scratch-offs? Guess we'll find out.