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Former Saints head coach Sean Payton believes the NFL Draft could be undergoing a major change in the near future. 

During an interview with Colin Cowherd this week, Payton predicted the draft will eventually move to a lottery system where the worst team in the NFL wouldn't necessarily end up with the No. 1 overall pick. 

"At some point, we're going to move to a lottery system in the NFL," Payton said. 

The subject of the draft came up when Payton was asked about USC quarterback Caleb Williams, who he views as a "generational" player. With Williams being such an impressive prospect, Payton could envision a situation where teams try to tank for him when he becomes eligible for the draft in 2024, but a lottery would prevent that. 

"[Williams] is a player that possibly does that [gets the NFL to switch to a lottery], where at the end of the season, here we are in, call it Week 14, and clubs begin to lose to try to put themselves in [position to get the top pick]," Payton said. "That's not been a problem to date with our league, as we know it. It very well could have been."

If Payton says a big change could be coming, it's certainly worth listening to him and that's because he spent four years (2017-21) on the NFL's influential competition committee. If the league has ever had any conversations about moving to a lottery system, Payton would definitely know about them and he'd know how serious the talks were. 

As for tanking, the former Saints coach pointed out two situations where he knows that teams were definitely tanking, and one of those situations actually involved a game he was coaching in. Back in 2014, the Buccaneers needed to lose their regular-season finale to clinch the No. 1 overall pick, but they couldn't even lose right because they were winning 20-7 at halftime against Payton's Saints. In the second half, the Buccaneers benched nearly all of their starters and the Saints came back to win the game 23-20. 

"It happened at one o'clock on a small rating game and it just disappeared in Tampa and we just never talked about it," Payton said. 

The former Saints coach also pointed to the regular-season finale between Philadelphia and Washington in 2020. In that game, the Eagles knew they were going to get the sixth overall pick if they lost, but they would drop to ninth overall if they won. With Philadelphia trailing 17-14 in the third quarter, the Eagles clearly still had a chance to win, but that chance went out the window when they benched Jalen Hurts for Nate Sudfeld, who had a disastrous performance in a 20-14 loss. 

"In 2020, the Eagles took out their starting quarterback and put it in Nate Sudfeld and everyone thought, 'What are they doing?' It was on 'Sunday Night Football' and that was a problem for the league," Payton said. "It was a problem because Philly wanted to stick at the six-spot in the draft, so there's nothing they were playing for."

The Browns and Dolphins have also been accused of tanking, but the NFL didn't find any evidence to corroborate those allegations. 

The fact of that matter, though, is that we've seen teams tank before and Payton even pointed out two examples, so a lottery might not be the worst idea. Commissioner Roger Goodell was actually asked about the possibility of a draft lottery in April and he didn't exactly shoot down the idea. 

"The Competition Committee talks about it on, I would say, a regular basis," Goodell said, via Pro Football Talk. "I haven't heard it in the last couple years, but I never say never about any of those things. It may come a time where we think it's appropriate."

Under a lottery system, each team that doesn't make the playoffs would get a ping pong ball and those balls would be placed into a lottery machine. The NFL would then pick a ball out to determine who gets each pick from one thru 18. The worst teams each year would have more ping pong balls to give them a better chance to get the top pick, but there's no guarantee they'd get it. 

The lottery system would also mean that a team with a winning record from the prior season could theoretically get the top pick. For instance, even though the Colts, Dolphins, Saints and Chargers finished with a 9-8 record in 2021, they would have still been eligible for the top pick because they didn't make the playoffs. 

Although Goodell didn't make it seem like the NFL was looking to implement a lottery system anytime soon, Payton clearly feels differently. If he thinks it could be in place by the time Williams is draft eligible, that means he's predicting that it could happen as soon as 2024.