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Janoris Jenkins could be the first to directly attack the draft


With cornerback Janoris Jenkins, widely regarded as possessing talent that would get him drafted in the first round, booted from Florida too late to join the 2011 draft, Jenkins will be a hot commodity in the 2011 supplemental draft.

If, that is, there even is a supplemental draft.

Unless the lockout has ended, there likely won’t be a supplemental draft. If Judge Nelson’s decision to lift the lockout survives appeal, the NFL will be required to implement rules moving forward. If (when) the NFL decides to continue the draft, a supplemental draft possibly will be scheduled for 2011.

And Jenkins, who’ll likely be the hottest name in the supplemental draft, could decide that he doesn’t want to be told where he’s going to play (especially if he hires Brian Ayrault to be his agent), and that Jenkins doesn’t want his contract determined by any type of scale or slotting process based on when he’s selected. So he could sue the league for violating the antitrust laws, and without a Collective Bargaining Agreement in place to insulate the NFL from antitrust challenges, Jenkins’ case would turn on whether the courts eventually decide that a draft constitutes a reasonable restraint on competition.

To attack the supplemental draft, Jenkins could file suit on his own, or he could join the existing Tom Brady antitrust lawsuit. You know, the one that generally claims that all rules imposed by the NFL absent a CBA violate the antitrust laws but that does not yet directly target the draft because the expired CBA stated unequivocally that the draft would occur in 2011.

Though it will be a long time before we know whether any assault on the draft succeeds, we could know by July whether the players claim that a draft conducted in a non-union environment violates antitrust laws.