Winners and Losers of Proposed NFL Draft Move to May
The NFL's desire to move its annual draft back to the month of May will produce both winners and losers.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the NFL and NFL Players Association are "on the verge" of moving the draft from its customary date in April to May, starting in 2014. The start of the new league year is also expected to be moved up, from the middle of March to early March.
While no changes have been confirmed by commissioner Roger Goodell or NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, moving the draft back would seem to fit the NFL's plan to extend the window of the league's news cycle during the offseason. The NFL draft remains one of the biggest events on the NFL calendar.
In the following slides, we'll break down the winners and losers of moving the draft back to May.
Winner: Rehabbing and Borderline Draft Prospects
Few red flags can hurt a prospect's draft stock than rehabbing an injury through the pre-draft process.
Players such as Eddie Lacy (pictured), Keenan Allen and several others from the 2013 draft know the effects it can have. Potential first-rounders, both Lacy and Allen fell last month in part because of lingering injury issues.
With two or three extra weeks, prospects will be provided a longer duration to get healthy and work out for NFL teams.
The extra time will also give borderline players more chances to impress teams, including those not invited to the NFL combine.
Overall, pushing the draft back should increase the pool of players that are looked at during the full process, which would also increase the chance for a previously undraftable player to hear his name called during the three-day event.
Moving the draft back may give agents more time to sell their clients to respective teams, but it would come at a significant cost.
Keep in mind, agents are often the funding behind the pre-draft process. They provide the monetary base for test training, workouts and any other support the player needs to assist in him being drafted. Agents look at the pre-draft costs as an investment—and one that will eventually produce return once the player is drafted and signs an NFL contract.
However, adding on another two or three weeks to the support schedule could be crippling to some agencies.
Financing players who lack the funding to prepare themselves won't be a huge hurdle for super agents like Drew Rosenhaus (pictured above), but the smaller firms could find themselves in trouble. Three more weeks of expenses wouldn't come cheap.
Winner: Smart-Drafting Franchises
On one hand, moving the draft to May will provide each franchise more time to scout and prepare accurate opinions on collegiate players. In theory, this could help level the playing field.
But on the other hand, the franchises that already win the draft process could be getting another helping hand.
While general managers like Ozzie Newsome (pictured) or Ted Thompson do not need any more time to be prepared for the draft, adding three more weeks to the process may open up the door for other scouting departments to chase after workout warriors, as former NFL scout Russell Lande tweeted here.
As you know, the last collegiate football game of the season happens in early January. That leaves four full months for teams to not only analyze game tape, but also work out players. Smart franchises stick to what they see on tape; others still depend far too heavily on the measurables.
While more time would seem to help out the poorer-run franchises, you can expect the best scouting departments to use the extra days in a smarter fashion.
Loser: MLB, NBA and NHL
The NFL draft has long fought the start of the MLB season and NBA and NHL playoffs at the end of April, but pushing the event back two or three weeks will further hurt the three secondary American sports.
By all accounts, the draft continues to be an all-consuming factor in the sports news cycle. According to NFL.com, the first round of the 2013 NFL draft drew 20 million viewers on ESPN and NFL Network alone. The ratings almost doubled the next highest cable program for that Thursday night.
But as much as the draft is a three-day spectacle capable of dominating viewership, the lead-up to the event also carries headlines and sports programs for months in advance.
If the NFL decides to push it back two or three more weeks, the draft would further dampen the interest in the three other sports during the process. A time period once rid of the NFL would once again have to fight the sporting giant.
Winner: The NFL
The NFL is an obvious winner in moving the draft back to May.
With a schedule that is continually evolving, the NFL is doing its best to dominate more and more of the news cycle. And any time the NFL is winning a bigger share of the media coverage, the better for the league's pocketbook.
Of course, dollars remain the motivation for almost everything that happens in the NFL offices. If there is an opportunity for the league to squeeze more cash out of an event—even one as already successful as the draft—chances are that opportunity will be seized.
In the end, moving the draft back to May will likely allow the NFL offseason to remain more relevant than in year's past. Whether you like the idea, that reality makes the NFL a clear winner here.