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Luck Retirement Sparks Another Outbreak Of Draft Denial

Chicago Bears v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

You knew it was coming. We all knew, the very minute four time Pro Bowl quarterback and former number one overall pick Andrew Luck announced his retirement, the idea that high draft picks are overrated and unnecessary, would become a red hot commodity once again. It’s a crap shoot, we said, nothing’s guaranteed, etc.

All of which, of course, is true, at least to a point. That’s the danger of placing too much emphasis on exceptions. And Andrew Luck retiring from the NFL two weeks before his thirtieth birthday is an exception. You know what exceptions are designed to do? They’re out there as a distraction, and ultimately they are an outstanding tool with which to separate us from reality. Back in grade school, when you took a test, for almost every multiple choice question, in addition to the correct answer, test administrators would include another choice that was similar to the correct choice. Educators call this, appropriately enough, a ‘distractor’ question. If the student isn’t paying attention, or fails to read each of the choices carefully, he or she will often choose the distractor choice as their answer, and get the question wrong.

We see examples similar to this play out over and over again every day. When people are waiting in line at a convenience store, they look up and see the LED message scroll across the screen above the counter: ‘Big Game Jackpot -- $150 Million’. If the message were more truthful, it would say something like, ‘A hundred and fifty million people each lost a dollar, so that you could have a chance to win $150 million. Your odds of matching all six numbers are one in three hundred million, but why don’t you go ahead and buy a ticket anyway, because we need more money to pave the roads’ Because we are emotional creatures, we tend to place a much higher value on a given outcome than is warranted, no matter how infinitesimal the chances of that outcome might be. If a computer could think (I hear some of them just about can now), it would scoff at the idea of spending even two cents on a piece of paper that carries a 1 in 300,000,000 likelihood of being a winning ticket. Just as surely, that same computer would come to the correct conclusion that the higher a player is selected in the annual college draft, the more likely that player is to become a Pro Bowler and possibly nominated for the Hall of Fame someday.

Fortunately, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and GM Chris Grier understand this, as well, even if many fans don’t, or refuse to. That’s why Ross said at his final press conference of 2018 that the team might have to go through a bad season to have an opportunity for real improvement in the future. Can you imagine the reaction he would have gotten if he had said, “Well, we’ve averaged seven point something wins per year for the past fifteen or so years (Ross became majority owner in 2009), so our goal is to keep winning seven or eight games a year and drafting in the teens and twenties every April, after the really good players have already been selected” Yet, this is exactly what many fans are hoping for again this season, and other than just the usual stubbornness (‘Win every game’), I think I know why this may be the case. I think some fans are actually hoping that the Dolphins win just enough games to play themselves out of a chance to get one of the top quarterbacks in the draft next Spring. Why? Because they want to see Josh Rosen become the starter in Miami for the long term, and if the Dolphins win more than four or five games, that’s exactly what will happen.

And don’t get me wrong; I love the kid, and I hope he stays healthy and lights up the scoreboard for Miami. But having the first or second pick in the draft can be a windfall for a team, especially if they don’t need a quarterback. The Rams bled the Redskins dry in 2012 for the second pick, which Washington of course used to take RGIII. If the Dolphins end up taking a quarterback with their first pick next year, as many observers still believe they will, there is nothing wrong with having two good players at the position, both of whom are on cheap rookie contracts. That’s the wrap for today, have a great week, everybody.