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The NFL Draft can transform a franchise. A collection of four, five, or six players that become starters or contributors on a roster can make a dramatic impact on a franchise. Just ask the Cleveland Browns.
The NFL Draft also allows teams to pick up some cheap, quality labor. With the league's rookie wage scale, NFL teams get the benefit of employing impact players for far less than what they are worth in the open market. Take the Kansas City Chiefs as an example. The Chiefs had the No. 1 offense in the NFL led by the league's MVP - quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In the second year of his rookie contract, Mahomes made a whopping $555,000 last season.
This year's draft, which begins April 25, will be another lesson in NFL economics. Teams will once again obsess over quarterbacks and defensive linemen in the first round while one position will be overlooked - wide receiver.
It's no secret that the quarterback position is the most important on an NFL roster. Teams that feature guys like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees are much better off than the rest of the league. Quarterback is so important that 13 of the 19 first overall picks in this century have been signal callers. Even in 2019, a draft that has been labeled subpar at the quarterback position, there could be as many as four quarterbacks drafted in the first round.
Not so for wide receivers.
There is a reason why NFL teams may overlook guys like Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf or Ohio State's Parris Campbell. Over the past four drafts, 15 receivers have been selected in the first round. None have lived up to their first-round hype. Kevin White was taken at No. 7 in 2015. He's been a huge disappointment. Ditto that for Laquon Treadwell taken No. 23 in 2016. The only one of the 15 with a 1,000-yard receiving season is Amari Cooper (drafted in 2015).
Teams around the league thinking of drafting a wide receiver in Round 1 might want to take a page out of the playbook of the smartest team in the NFL. The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots have not drafted a wide receiver in the first round of any draft in 23 years.
Metcalf, Campbell, Oklahoma's Marquise Brown, and A.J. Brown of Ole Miss are wide receivers that are projected to go in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft. Do not be surprised if a few - or all - of them are passed over in Round 1. While receiving quality and depth is needed to win in the NFL, it can be found much cheaper in the later rounds of the draft.