Right now, across the pond in America, the NFL Draft 2016 process is going on. For those unfamiliar (although this article kind of guesses you are familiar), the NFL teams take their pick of the best young bucks coming out of the college system, worst team of the previous season going first (although teams trade for picks, but this muddles things).
The draft process doesn’t exist in the Premier League. You will have noticed this. But what if it DID?
Inspired by the Leicester success story, the Premier League bigwigs decided to implement the process. Players aged 23 and below who played between 500-2000 minutes this year will be put into a field, ready to be plucked by the Premier League teams of the 2016/17 season. [NB: This would be better if it was Championship players, so as to more closely replicate a draft process, although Championship sides would have to get some kind of hefty compensation, and I’d have to know those players better].
I’m taking the Championship top 3 and the Premier League table as they are now and reversing them to give us our first ever EPL Draft running order along with the contenders.
Brighton: *drum roll*
*no seriously an actual drum roll. Just be glad I didn’t outline the inevitably immensely dull ceremony that would come before it*
Brighton: Raheem Sterling – First up on the pick list they get the choiciest of morsels. Arguably the most outstanding talent on the list, a real star you could build your franchise around. Or sell for big bucks (*shrugs*, there’s a reason this isn’t happening in real life).
Middlesborough: Memphis – Another ‘just pick a good player’ choice. Great talent, though had a bad season. Boro has also conceded the least amount of goals in the Championship this season, so they can afford to choose someone who doesn’t often seem keen to track back as a forward.
Burnley: Oxlade-Chamberlain – Just as quarter-backs go high up in the NFL Draft, exciting attacking-midfielders will in the EPL Draft.
Sunderland: Kurt Zouma – There are still some good talents available but goddammit do Sunderland need some competent central defenders. A good opportunity for the Black Cats.
Crystal Palace: Kelechi Iheanacho – Palace have a decent team, but could maybe do with a decent striker to finish things off. He and Rashford are the two main contenders, but Iheanacho is bigger and has done better in the air, so presumably Palace would plump for him.
Swansea: James Ward-Prowse – Swansea seem a fairly intelligent set-up. Maybe. They could go flashy but I reckon they’d go for Ward-Prowse (*shrugs*, I’ll come clean and admit I don’t know a huge amount about Swansea or Ward-Prowse, but everyone’s gotta have gaps in their knowledge somewhere).
Bournemouth: Gerard Deulofeu -Now, Bournemouth are definitely a decently set-up club, so why go for flashy Deulofeu? Well, compared to what else is left he’s probably the best quality increase for them and has proven talent in the league, which a young Premier League side may need.
West Bromwich Albion: Jamaal Lascelles – Tony Pulis is at West Brom. Tony Pulis is on a quest to collect a special PSN trophy of fielding an entire regular XI of centre-backs. Jamaal Lascelles is the only centre-back left.
Watford: Nathan Aké – Both a talented prospect and a player at the club. There probably isn’t an option to trade up which would be worth losing Aké.
Everton: Marcus Rashford – With Lukaku likely to go in the summer, as well as losing Deulofeu, a striker would be a good option for them. Rashford is a decent talent, and very young with lots of room to grow, unlike some others on the list who have played meaningful minutes and still have question marks around them.
Stoke: Borthwick-Jackson – With their ‘Stokealona’ options in the forward areas, a less flashy option is probably their best way forward. Hughes is an ex-United man, may edge him towards one of their youth products.
Chelsea: Baba Rahman – Chelsea have two kids still in the pool, Baba Rahman and Kenedy. Losing Baba Rahman, as well as Zouma earlier in the Draft, would leave them on a negative number of defenders next year, so this is a ‘hand being forced’ kind of situation.
Southampton: Matt Targett – Another club keeping hold of their own player. Their only guy left, and the love of the fans probably outweighs any value gain that could be made with another pick.
Liverpool: Jordan Ibe – Similar to the above. It’s either gonna be Ibe or Origi, and Ibe probably has a better future at the club than Origi.
West Ham: Brendan Galloway – There isn’t a huge lot of value left, most of it being in attacking midfield where the club already has some talent. Galloway would be a solid addition.
Manchester United: Alex Iwobi – It’s either him, Kenedy, or Origi for United as I see it. Origi is an ex-Liverpool man so that would look bad. It’s a coin toss, decided by the fact it would be more fun if United nick an Arsenal guy than a Chelsea one.
Arsenal: Kenedy – United take Iwobi, Arsenal take Kenedy. A boring, predictable pick, considering what’s left on the table.
Manchester City: Jack Grealish – Probably nothing that’s guaranteed to boost them directly, but Grealish has that *something* about him, and I’m assuming he’d count as a homegrown player for them.
Tottenham: Divock Origi – Spurs probably don’t need to use the Draft to improve, especially considering they have the second last pick. Origi could be a competent squad player.
Leicester: Nathan Redmond – Redmond, a quick attacking player, would fit well in Leicester’s counter-attacking set-up, whether as a first-team or squad player. Also something of an underdog compared to the bigger names who went earlier in the Draft, which kinda fits with Leicester’s profile.
I hope your enjoyed this, it was quite fun. I hope you enjoyed it too. Comment below, get me on twitter @ETNAR_uk, or email at email@example.com
[by the way, I took the Championship and Premier League tables before the games starting on Friday 29th]