For those late night gridiron lovers it was the first round of the NFL draft pick in the early hours of this morning which is always an exciting time of year as the seeded teams in American Football get to choose from the best college football graduates in America.
First pick went to Arizona Cardinals who went for Oklahoma Quarter Back Kyler Murray (the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner) who incidentally has also played Major League Baseball for Oakland Athletics. I won’t bore you with any more.
In NFL Drafts the first round picks start usually with the worst ranking teams getting first choice on the college footballers which got me thinking wouldn’t it be interesting if Premier League clubs could do the same?
Now in football, sorry soccer, yes proper football this wouldn’t be possible due to the existing global transfer system in place but imagine Premier League teams having first pick on the Championship clubs best prospects?
So hypothetically… If the league was as it is Huddersfield Town at the bottom they would get first pick on the Championships best players, the 19th placed team would go second and the likes of Manchester City & Liverpool will get the drabs (or overlooked bargains) at the end. So here’s my mock draft on what the Premier League teams could pick.
*Please note this is a bit of fun so Championship teams please do not sue me.
1st Pick: Huddersfield Town
Jack Grealish – Arguably the best footballer in the Championship, Huddersfield would get first dabs on who to go for and why not pick what could be the divisions most valuable asset? The debate might be that by draft signing a player a team could certainly profit in future sell ons but with tough NFL like laws in place any draft pick refusing a contract would receive a ban longer than Tom Brady can throw a ball which would leave Grealish destined at Huddersfield for many years to come.
2nd Pick: Fulham
Teemu Pukki – With 28 goals this season so far the Norwich front man would be top on most teams lists and would certainly boost the firepower of the Cottagers who as a collective have scored only five more goals than Pukki this season. Interesting debate whether Fulham could go in for a centre half instead to sort out their leaky defence in which case the likes of Liam Cooper of Leeds or Jack O’Connell at Sheffield United could be on the radar?
3rd Pick: Cardiff City
Jay Rodriguez – The divisions second lowest goalscorers need a proven Premier League predator and Rodriguez is very much in the Warnock mould of centre forward that puts himself about and scores goals. Che Adams is another possibility but the immediate goals and physical presence of Rodriguez would suit Cardiff to a tea as they aim to remain on to their threadbare slim chances of stopping up.
4th Pick: Brighton & Hove Albion
Emiliano Buendia – A spark at the Community Stadium is what’s needed and in this Norwich City playmaker Chris Hughton would finally have the service and flair that his strikers need to get the goals to keep the Seagulls up. A wideman or traditional no 10 this Argentine born star would offer creativity in a solid looking team severely lacking in style.
5th Pick: Southampton
Daniel James – Overlooked so far the Swansea star has already been capped by Wales and looks like he has the capabilities to be a success in the Premier League too. Would be suited to the Hassenhuttl way and would offer the Saints another dimension in the attacking third. Potentially one of the most astute draft picks around?
6th Pick: Burnley
Dael Fry – The Clarets would Probably prefer to trade down as Sean Dyche is most likely already happy with what he’s got but if Burnley were to take a first round draft pick they could do worse than adding a young English defender with bags of potential to their ranks. The Middlesbrough centre half has already been capped by England at all levels from 17’s to 21’s and is fastly becoming one of the best defenders outside the top flight.
7th Pick: Bournemouth
Jack Clarke – Young fresh faced and attacking is usually what Eddie Howe goes for and this 18 year old Leeds United wonderkid could be the perfect fit for football down on the South Coast at the Vitality Stadium. A star for the future Clarke is an exciting prospect who will play the Bournemouth way before probably making the club a lot of money.
8th Pick: Newcastle United
Jarrod Bowen – Rafa Benitez is crying out for some guile in an otherwise solid but unspectacular Newcastle side. Bowen could be the perfect fit, a wide man with a goal or two to his name the flying Hull City winger has 21 goals already this season. An alternative target should Bowen not get picked earlier in the draft would be Joe Lolley of Nottingham Forest.
9th Pick: Crystal Palace
Pontus Jansson – Unspectacular yet productive is usually the way Roy Hodgson likes to work his transfers with Crystal Palace heavily reliant on the unpredictable Wilfried Zaha and Roys boy Andros Townsend on the counter attack. Leeds United’s Jansson could slot in at centre half or midfielder Oliver Norwood from Sheffield United would perhaps offer a more solid looking spine to the Eagles side.
10th Pick: West Ham United
Max Aarons – With Pablo Zabaletta not getting any younger what a perfect way to replace him then with one of the Championships hottest promising teenagers. Right back Aarons has been magnificent for table topping Norwich and a move to the London Stadium would offer another dimension to the Irons not just in defence but in attack from the back. Another potential target could be Aarons team-mate Onel Hernandez an exciting playmaker who plays the West Ham way.
11th Pick: Leicester City
Neal Maupay – French forward Maupay is Brentford’s busy bee that keeps on providing. At only 5ft7in he is diminutive and creative with an eye for goal, this season he has 24 so far with 8 assists and would fill the foxes void perfectly left by Riyad Mahrez last summer.
12th Pick: Everton
Che Adams – If he’s not snapped up already Adams would offer Everton a feisty goal threat much needed as they try and bridge the gap widening from the top six. If the Toffees miss out on the Birmingham front man they do worse than choosing McBurnie of Swansea but it would perhaps not be surprising if they went for something totally underwhelming like Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland as understundy to keep Jordan Pickford on his toes?
13th Pick: Watford
Said Benrahma – The Brentford playmaker has 10 goals and 14 assists to his name and can operate on either flank fitting perfectly into the Watford way of buying foreign. Alternatives could be Leeds United’s Macedonian winger Ezgjan Alioski or Nottingham Forest’s Portuguese playmaker Joao Carvalho?
14th Pick: Wolverhampton Wanderers
Kalvin Phillips – A fierce competitor in the Championship with Leeds he would add another dimension to the Wolves midfield and would bolster an improving team further more. Coach Nuno Santo may prefer to go with what he knows though and Sheffield Wednesday’s Portuguese forward Lucus Joao could easily be snapped up to strengthen the Molineux outfits Latin looking frontline.
15th Pick: Manchester United
Ben Godfrey – Usually known for grooming the countries best youngsters you wouldn’t normally get Manchester United picking out players from the Championship but a solid athletic young defender that can also play central midfield is certainly what United are looking for. Norwich stopper Godfrey is one of the hottest prospects on the market and should trade sooner in an open draft but if not I’m sure one of the big boys would like to pounce.
16th Pick: Arsenal
Arvin Appiah – There’s something romantic about Arsenal picking lower league youngsters and watching them flourish as debutants before loaning them back to lesser clubs. Rob Holding and Callum Chambers spring to mind perhaps but Nottingham Forest’s England youth international teenager could be the perfect gunners fit. Speedy and technical he could be a player that kicks on long term training with the right club.
17th Pick: Chelsea
Tammy Abraham – The beauty of Chelsea’s predicament is that they already own half of the best youngsters playing in the Championship with Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Reece James to name a few. With a transfer embargo pending though they do need a striker so Abraham would be the perfect fit. If not would Lewis Grabban or Britt Assombalonga score any less at the Blues than Giroud or Higuain?
18th Pick: Tottenham Hotspur
Ryan Yates – Spurs have been linked with plenty of talented youngsters from the Championship this season, Jack Grealish, Jarrod Bowen, Che Adams to name a few but realistically any draft pick due to their position would see them miss out on their main targets as others would most probably snap them up. Ryan Yates is a young box to box midfielder currently at Nottingham Forest with plenty of energy and would be a player that could grow into Pochettino’s progressive philosophy over time.
19th Pick: Liverpool
Lloyd Kelly – The 20 year old defender has already been touted as a future Liverpool target after a solid season at Bristol City. The left sider has already had England U21 caps and would be a perfect candidate to join Liverpool’s growing number of homegrown youngsters.
20th Pick: Manchester City
Sam Johnstone – Having last pick on our mock draft are the reigning champions and the table toppers who you could argue don’t need much in addition to their current repertoire? City currently have two players for every position but their biggest weakness for me is at goalkeeper where only Claudio Bravo and Arijanet Muric offer stable back up to Ederson. Former United shot stopper Sam Johnstone at WBA is arguably the best in the league and would offer up as an able understudy should their Brazilian no 1 be injured.
*Please note this is a mock draft and under no circumstances would this ever work in Premier League football but if it did wouldn’t it be fun? It’ll be interesting to see from here where many of these players end up as no doubt all 20 players mentioned still have a lot of football to play for their current clubs as well as any potential teams they may end up at.