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McKay shoots down talk of February draft

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DANA POINT, Calif. -- Atlanta Falcons president and co-chairman of the National Football League's competition committee Rich McKay denies reports that the NFL is considering changing the annual draft from April to February.

"We had that discussion eight years ago, but I don't think we've had it since then," McKay told The Sports Xchange on Sunday at the NFL owners meeting when asked about a report that began with Pro Football Weekly and was repeated on numerous websites.

"We've never discussed it," he said emphatically. "We've discussed the offseason calendar a lot, but there has been no discussion of moving the draft up."

The draft actually was held in late January or early February from 1968-75. It was moved to early April in 1976, and then early May in 1977. It also included 17 rounds until 1978 when it was downsized to 12. It has been seven rounds since 1994.

One reason the draft moved to May in 1977 was to accommodate the NFL's system of draft-choice compensation that was put in place as part of free agency, although activity in that market did not become common until further rule changes more than a decade later.

Moving the draft to February at this time in history would have a dramatic impact on compensation involving restricted free agents and franchise players, which would need to be awarded a year after the related transaction.

Over the years, the day of the draft has also changed from Tuesday and Wednesday (as it was through most the 1970s) to beginning early Sundays (helping it become a television draw on ESPN in the 1980s) and finally to the current Saturday/Sunday presentation that is aired simultaneously by ESPN and NFL Network.

McKay's reference to the offseason calendar is in regards to current discussions concerning the potential impact of increasing the regular season schedule to 17 or 18 games.

This year's seven-round draft is scheduled for April 25-26.

Don't know what advantages there were to a late February draft

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If the draft were to be moved I would like for it to be early april.. Late february would be very bad. Then there won't be any time for the players to really show what they really can do in pro days. They need a break after their season. But I don't mind if it is not moved.

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