The public reason the NFL gave on Tuesday for moving the 2014 NFL Draft to May 8-10 was because of a scheduling conflict at Radio City Music Hall.
We know better.
Pushing the draft back extends the relevance of the NFL by two weeks. With that comes two extra weeks of advertising dollars. Two weeks of grousing by some. Two more weeks of joy for draft lovers. Two more weeks for agents to foot the bill of their hopeful clients.
Thus far, no other offseason activities have been changed. Nothing has been announced for 2015 and further into the future.
Having the draft in May is not truly unique. The 1984 draft was held on May 1-2. The last draft in May was 1985, when it went from April 30 to May 1.
But this is 2013. Everyone has an opinion and an avenue to voice it. Here are the thoughts from myself and fellow SB Nation NFL Draft writer Matthew Fairburn on pushing back the draft:
Kadar: The obvious talking point for people against the draft being moved is it means more analysis, speculation and mock drafts. But as long as those who are doing the analysis, speculation and mocks are doing it in an educated and informed fashion, why is that an issue? While there are far too many out there throwing anything against the wall leading up to the draft, there are so many people now doing it right. And doing it right doesn’t necessarily equate to how many picks in a mock draft you get correct. I’ve always told people to find writers or journalists they trust, and stick with them. If you think someone out there is being dishonest or deceptive, don’t read them. Too many mock drafts? We, and plenty of others, do so much more than mock drafts.
Fairburn: The biggest plus for moving the draft back is that it means more time to study prospects. The vast majority of those who cover the NFL draft year-round don’t do so on a full-time basis. Even those that do are cramming to get their eyes on as many prospects as humanly possible before the draft. And guess what, there’s always another prospect or another game we could have watched. While the wait may seem painfully long, if it means getting to evaluate another 20-30 players in those two weeks, it’s worth it.
Kadar: Of course, there are negatives. Anonymous NFL executives are already complaining about how they have to grind and be away from their family for two more weeks of the year. Lazy NFL writers are doing the same. Maybe this will force those NFL executives into understanding they probably don’t need to spend 100 hours in a week to decide what player to take in the first round. The real loser here, though, is the mothers. The 2014 NFL Draft takes place the same weekend of Mother’s Day next year. But being the mother of a rabid NFL fan, writer or executive should come with enough understanding to get it.
Fairburn: Plenty of people are going to start complaining about the wait. The Super Bowl is in February each year, and we then have to wait two whole months for the NFL Draft. Meanwhile, in the NBA and NHL, the draft closely follows the conclusion of the league’s playing season, leading one to wonder why the NFL can’t do the same. That being said, how much can we really complain about the wait? That means two more weeks of draft talk in the spring and a further delay of the NFL’s dead period. On Mother’s Day weekend, would you rather be watching the draft or combing through draft grades?
Kadar: Ugh. Draft grades. See, if the draft gets pushed back, that means draft grades – those ever-popular yet infuriating necessities – will have a later release date. Really, with the draft being pushed back, there isn’t much being missed. Oh no, less focus on the Kentucky Derby, the first quarter of the season in Major League Baseball or the first round of the marathon NBA playoffs. And don’t act like you’d take the extra time and work out or actually live life. Face it, if you’re here, chances are you’re among the sports zombie horde. You may as well be inundated as much as possible with the sport of choice.
When it comes down to it, the NFL knows professional football is the most popular sport in the country. Moving the draft back two weeks only extends the relevance of the NFL. It also means more money for the league via advertising. Draft content will always be more profitable than the top 100 players. That means more money for the league to spend on obvious needs like Carrie Underwood singing before games, or Deion Sanders’ NFL Network contract.
Fairburn: The biggest question surrounding the move of the NFL Draft date is how many other changes will follow? For starters, the added time between the end of the season and the draft should allow schools to spread out their pro days. In the past, we’ve seen pro days stacked into the month of March, with multiple schools holding workouts on the same day. That forces NFL front offices to either divide and conquer the different pro days or pick and choose which ones to attend. That does the prospects and teams a bit of injustice, though under the time constraints it was necessary. With an extra two weeks, can the NFL and college teams iron out the process?
Kadar: The increased "draft season" window will also give injured players more time for rehabilitation. We saw it several times this year, notably with pass rusher Cornellius Carradine, where a player pushed an individual workout back as far as possible while rehabbing an injury. Having the draft in May will give a player up to two more weeks of recovery. Had Carradine not been rushed back, he may have been picked higher than 40th overall. That’s not the last of the tangible positives, however.
With two more weeks, the NFL could allow a team to bring more than 30 non-local players into its facility. This would be another way for a player injured at the time of the combine to show off his skills. This could also allow the NFL to explore other venues and locations. Don’t think the draft would play well at Barclays Center in Brooklyn? Or how about moving it to Green Bay, or a city where the fanbase lives off the draft like in Cleveland. It’s the best they’ve got in Cleveland, so bring the draft to its epicenter of interest. Want to truly gauge interest of the NFL in Los Angeles? Hold the draft there for a year.
Fairburn: A lot of fuss has been made over the draft moving back a few weeks, but in the grand scheme of things, what harm does it really do? The draft will be over before Mother’s Day, and the NFL plays games on national holidays each year anyways. Maybe writers won’t have as much vacation time, but that’s petty at best.
Kadar: Besides, it’s not like NFL writers or scouts are school teachers. And, after all, the NFL of the future is becoming a year-round spectacle. Pushing the draft back is merely the next step. What's next?