Jump to content

Owners might consider moving NFL draft to late February


atljbo
 Share

Recommended Posts

Sweeping changes

Owners might consider moving NFL draft to late February

By Mike Holbrook

March 22, 2009

Indications are strong that the annual NFL owners meeting to be held March 22-25 in Dana Point, Calif., could be one of the most compelling gatherings in many years.

And the country’s economic woes appear to be a big reason why.

Not only will the owners be hearing from the NFL’s Competition Committee on a number of rules changes to impact games during the season, but whispers are growing louder that the league may be ready to consider making dramatic changes to the offseason schedule, including changing the dates for the postseason all-star games, the Scouting Combine, the draft and veteran free agency.

Multiple inside sources throughout the league have told PFW that the economic climate, coupled with the uncertainty of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement with the players in addition to the potential for an uncapped year in 2010 and a potential lockout in ’11, have made cost-cutting measures a top priority.

The decision by commissioner Roger Goodell to take a 20 percent pay cut in annual salary and to eliminate 169 league jobs back in February might have been the prelude to bigger and bolder budgetary decisions, though nothing has been decided yet.

For instance, the draft has been held in late April or early May since 1977. However, there are a number of movers and shakers in the league who believe that veteran free agency should follow the draft, and with the CBA still to be agreed upon for the next contract, this issue could be a bargaining chip for owners.

Those same league insiders would like to see the draft moved to late February, with free agency to commence following rookie minicamps, most likely in mid-to-late March.

"They need to get the draft put ahead of free agency," one veteran talent evaluator told PFW.

If the draft were to be held two months earlier, it obviously would compress the time allowed to evaluate talent. All-star games for college seniors would be affected, as would the Scouting Combine.

The Senior Bowl, the most popular all-star game for player evaluation in the league and a traditional gathering spot for NFL coaches, GMs and scouts in the week before the Super Bowl, has been held in Mobile, Ala., for years. However, Senior Bowl organizers are looking for an NFL venue to move their event to and have given Tampa, Fla., exclusive negotiating rights to become the long-term home of the game.

The East-West Shrine Game, an all-star bowl game for college seniors that began in 1925 and spent 80 years in the San Francisco area before moving to Texas in 2006, is also seriously considering moving to Tampa.

By having both big senior showcases in the same city, the games could work in unison to attract the best talent and give prospects an opportunity to practice for two weeks in front of NFL decision makers, plus play games on back-to-back weekends.

The Combine would be held in early February following the Super Bowl. With little time for players to work out on their own and hold pro days at their school, the Combine would become even more important for prospects to show NFL scouts what they can do. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the number of invitees to the Combine was increased to accommodate more prospects.

The biggest upside for the league and its 32 teams in combining the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game in the same city along with an expanded Combine is tremendous travel savings. Expenses have grown exponentially over the years, with teams sending scouts across the country from all-star game to all-star game and from pro day to pro day. By making travel more efficient for scouts and personnel men, the league believes each team could save millions of dollars.

One other key factor in holding the draft earlier is that it is likely to limit the amount of input from the head coach and his assistants. It will force teams to rely more on their scouting staffs and personnel departments. The earlier draft will reward well-organized and talented scouting departments and expose less-talented, less-informed scouts.

With the league streamlining the draft in recent years and moving in the direction of making the first two rounds a prime-time event, the timing of a late-February draft would be excellent in terms of taking place during one of TV’s key sweeps months. It also would be at a relatively dead time in the sports calendar — before college basketball’s March Madness or baseball’s spring training and well before the NBA or NHL playoffs begin.

The earlier draft would allow teams to select for need with younger players first, then see what they’ve got in minicamps before deciding whom to pursue in free agency. The system currently encourages teams to fill roster needs with veteran free agents before the draft.

Pro days won’t go away. In fact, less-heralded draft-eligible players who aren’t drafted could still hold pro days to showcase their skills when working out with juniors who are being evaluated in anticipation of the following year’s draft. As a result, teams would be encouraged to start collecting information for the next draft as soon as possible and have their scouting departments be prepared to hit the ground running in the fall.

Finally, pushing up the draft would naturally create a lengthy break from league business — allowing for ample downtime in May and June — something that many league insiders believe is desperately needed to prevent burnout and the feeling of being on a treadmill that they can’t get off.

"Some way, somehow, the NFL needs to find a way to give the league more of a break," a top executive told PFW. "It's like a treadmill that keeps getting faster and faster. They need to have a bigger window between the draft and free agency, regardless of which one comes first."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I disagree. Most of these guys drafted just got done playing in January. They need rest after playing a full college season. Keeping them away from football for 3 or 4 months is healthy.

I did not think about that.... The guys would have to get some off time..... To honest the guys dont have off time right now anyway..... Instead of having much as the prodays (aka training) during March...... March could be off time......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you could move up the draft from April 25th-26th to like April 5th-6th but I cannot for the life of me figure out how you move the draft up to the end of February without totally revamping everything.

Where is the time for the combine?

Where is the time for the campus workouts?

I just don't see it - if you move the draft up to the end of March then the NFL Draft is competing with "March Madness" in football - The problem with the first week in April is you are competing with opening day in baseball. Usually the 2nd weekend in April is "The Masters" golf tournament......

The NFL Draft is the biggest "Public Relations" promotion for the NFL outside of the SuperBowl - I think the NFL likes having the stage to themselves at the end of April - thre are too many logisitical issues moving it to the end of February. It seems to me that you might could move the draft up one weekend but that is about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like many here I don't see how you can move the draft to February. That doesn't give adequate time to scout.

On the other hand I am not a huge fan of pro-days so my thinking is, "if you want to workout in front of coaches and GM's then you do it at the combine or you take your chances."

Not a big fan of the senior bowl being coached by NFL coaches either. Those coaches seem to get some real advantages when it comes to scouting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the reason why is to cut down on expenses. I do that Feb is too early, but Late March is cool. The idea behind giving College players a break is crazy. Most of the Draft Prospects are working out like crazy anyway getting ready for the Combine and Pro-days. Moving the draft up would give drafted rookies a chance to participate in Offseason workouts will their new TEams.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like many here I don't see how you can move the draft to February. That doesn't give adequate time to scout.

On the other hand I am not a huge fan of pro-days so my thinking is, "if you want to workout in front of coaches and GM's then you do it at the combine or you take your chances."

Not a big fan of the senior bowl being coached by NFL coaches either. Those coaches seem to get some real advantages when it comes to scouting.

Everyone isn't invited to the combine

Link to comment
Share on other sites

According to league rules, the draft can be held as early as Feb already. I seriously doubt this happens BEFORE a rookie cap is in place. No team is going to want to pay multiple millions of dollars to players that they've had 2 fewer months to scout, workout, and interview. I just can't see this passing a full vote.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the reason why is to cut down on expenses. I do that Feb is too early, but Late March is cool. The idea behind giving College players a break is crazy. Most of the Draft Prospects are working out like crazy anyway getting ready for the Combine and Pro-days. Moving the draft up would give drafted rookies a chance to participate in Offseason workouts will their new TEams.

How about not playing games overseas. I'm sure that would cut down on expenses.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think this would be a great idea.

The reason has nothing to do with the college players. It has to do with the pro players.

This would allow free-agency to start AFTER the draft. This allows teams a better opportunity to see what they get in the draft, then fill in the holes with free agent pick ups.

It would really help a team decide who they want to target better in free agency and would allow more teams to take the best players available in the draft instead of drafting need players.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think this is a great idea to draft first and then fill in the gaps with free agent talent. Too many of the free agents are way over paid and every year end up being the highest paid at their position when they are not necessarily the best at their position. They are just simply the best available and front offices don't want to take a chance waiting until the draft.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. By moving the draft earlier, less time will be given to special pro days. This will drastically cut costs to teams that have to send scouts scrambling around the country. It will also force prospects to participate fully in the Combine.

2. Scouting for prospects is a year-round activity. Moving the draft up by two months will not change the time scouts have to create their reports. Often, scouts have reports on prospects as early as their sophomore year.

3. All-star games will be moved up and possibly held in the same city a week apart. This will also be a significant cost cutting move for teams.

4. Holding the draft before free agency will help teams make more rational decisions. I believe that teams will be less likely to panic and over pay FA's, if they are given a chance to cover their needs through the draft first.

5. Moving the draft to an earlier date will lessen the impact that agents have on their clients. I truly hate all the posturing and strategy that agents use to make prospects look better. I don't fault them for doing it, but I would like to see this move to lessen their impact on teams' decisions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...