JUST imagine. “With the first pick of the 2018 Scottish football draft, Cowdenbeath selects Karamoko Dembele of St Ninian’s High School, Kirkintilloch”.

The 15-year-old, seated with his family in ante-chamber of the SSE Hydro, flashes a smile and offers a thumbs up to the cameras. He then gets his picture taken with SFA commissioner Ian Maxwell before declaring that the Blue Brazil were the only team he ever wanted to play for and that he’s always been a big fan of stock car racing.

It’s almost that time again. Tonight, just after midnight, in Arlington, Texas, months of speculation and intrigue – a period which is commonly known as the ‘lying season’ - will come to an end and the first round of the NFL draft will be underway. The Cleveland Browns – more of a joke franchise than Cowdenbeath have ever been – are on the clock.

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For the uninitiated out there, it is worth issuing a little bit of background. The draft is the process whereby the top players on college scholarships across the US, some of them already polished media darlings, are neatly distributed to the 32 NFL franchises which want them. The worst team in last year’s Championships (ie winless Cleveland) are granted first pick while last year’s Super Bowl winners (the Philadelphia Eagles) go last.

In practice, of course, things are far more complex than this, as franchises can trade away their picks like confetti, one ramification of which this year is that the Browns have both the No 1 and No 4 picks, plus three more in the second round, having also had last year’s No 1 overall selection. In other words, they have a historic chance to give themselves relevance after years of lurking in the shadows. Or they could just make a mess of it again.

Incidentally, there is more intrigue than ever this year, with the 2018 crop widely regarded as the kind of bumper harvest of quarterbacks not seen since 1983, when Dan Marino, John Elway and Jim Kelly all entered thee league. This time the big four are Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield, all of whom are regarded as sure-fire success stories in waiting. Okay, so it has been known for players to outright refuse to be drafted to a particular club, ending up being traded elsewhere, but with a sliding, unionised pay scale to fall back on, such stories are few and far between.

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Considering so many Scottish football talents fall off the grid between 17 and 21, it is understandable if there is a yearning for this kind of systematic conveyor belt where the best players progress seamlessly through to the professional ranks. Google any one of Darnold, Allen and co and you can read pages and pages of the kind of thorough scouting and assessment dossiers which would put Jose Mourinho to shame.

Perhaps that is why the SFA included a draft, as part of their first draft, of Project Brave. Okay so this was only a watered-down means of doling out short-term development loans, not anything to do with permanent ownership of players, but briefly it seemed the prospect of Dembele being the centre of attention at Central Park might actually have been a goer.

Let’s just say it didn’t take long for that part of the plans to be quietly shelved. Because, aside from the odd sports scholarshipsoffered by the likes of University of Stirling or Edusport Academy, the entire paradigm is different over here.

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In the USA, the youngest player on professional terms at an NFL club is 19; here the clubs themselves take ownership of players at the age of 10, in some instances schooling them too. Here it is the clubs who do all the hard yards, the clubs who wield all the power. Why should they relinquish control of who they loan their players to? Who is to stop them hoarding the talent themselves?

It was a nice idea while it lasted, but in truth introducing a draft system for Scottish football deserved only to be left on the cutting room floor - alongside other great imponderables like the Old Firm playing in the Barclays Premier League. The incoming chief executive, however, has a job on when it comes to ensuring we get a less piece-meal and more centrally-planned pathway for our best young players. Some will tell him the SFA are bloated and inefficient. But the clubs can’t do it all by themselves.