NFL DRAFT 2010: NEW FORMAT, NEW DYNAMIC

The 2010 NFL Draft will be held over three days rather than two as previously had been the case. Many league personnel officials said earlier this off-season that could lead to more in-draft trades.

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Three-Day Format in 2010 NFL Draft Could Mean More Trades

INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL Draft each off-season is often about uncertainty, but there is one certain thing about this year's version:

It's going to look different. A lot different.

It's going to be in prime time. Twice.

It's going to be a three-day process and not two.

And it's certainly going to be a bit more made-for-television than years past.

But while those are mostly cosmetic differences, NFL personnel officials said at the NFL Scouting Combine in late February that there may be some substance to how the 2010 NFL Draft will change in the new three-day format.

This year, there is an extra day.

And that also means extra time between Rounds 1 and 2 and Rounds 3 and 4, which observers and analysts say could mean time to analyze the draft board, reevaluate needs and desires and make a few deals.

"What's the impact of a three-day draft?" former Washington Redskins and Houston Texans General Manager Charley Casserly asked during the NFL Scouting Combine, which was held at Lucas Oil Stadium in the final week of February.

"In talking to clubs, I think you have the potential for more trades. What you have is that extra time to talk in between the first day and the second day, Round One and Round Two and of course, Round Three and Round Four."

The NFL Draft this season for the first time will begin in prime time, with the first round being held Thursday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET, and with the second and third rounds on Friday, April 23 at 6 p.m. ET.

Rounds 4-7 will be held Saturday, April 24 at 10 a.m. ET.

As has been the case the last several seasons, it will be televised by ESPN and NFL Network and again will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

According to the league, the draft was a Saturday-Sunday event from 1995 to 2009, taking place on Sunday and Monday from 1988 to 1994.

Before that, according to the league, it was held on one or two weekdays.

In announcing the changes, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke of making a prime off-season event more accessible to fans, but throughout this off-season, a topic among personnel officials and front-office staffs has been how the change will relate to football.

The consensus was what Casserly discussed: that whereas in the past, the fourth round – being the first round of the draft's second day – often featured heavy trading, that dynamic might be seen more in this year's draft in Round 2 and again in Round 4.

"The only thing it does is, I think, it gives you a little bit more time to think about the second day," Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland said. "A little bit more time to re-stack your board and look at your priorities for the third day. You know you're making some very difficult decisions in 5, and 7, and 10 minutes and so I think it gives you a little bit more time."

Ireland said the other changes are comparatively minor.

"I think it changes the lingo or scout talk, you know, these guys are not just first- and second-day players anymore," he said. "So they're first-, second- or third-day players now. But other than that it will be a late night on Thursday and Friday.

"I'm looking forward to it. I think the format will be interesting and I like the time to think about your most imant picks. Who's your first-, second- and third-round pick? I like the time aspect of it."

The topic was much-discussed at the NFL Annual Meetings in March, with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick telling the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel the shift could give the second round the feel of first rounds from past years.

"It certainly changes your routine, and I'm a person of routine," Green Bay Packers General Manager Ted Thompson told the Journal-Sentinel. "It's been changed a little bit the last couple of years, so we'll change with it and go about our business. The first pick in each of the days are always valuable a little bit more because after the dust rises, there's normally a player where you say, 'Why is he still up there?' It becomes something of value."

Said Belichick, "I kind of think the second round will now be like the first round. Take those 32 players out of there, whoever they are, now you're starting all over again for that second round. And I can see it being approached more as that first round. In the past, you kind of rolled into that round. Now, to actually stop and have the whole night to sit there and think about it and talk to other teams and develop a new strategy . . . it's a different dynamic."

Thompson and other personnel officials said the extra time is the key to the changes, with a night to think allowing the potential for more phone calls between teams the following day.

"I think there will be," Thompson told the Journal-Sentinel. "There will be more time. People will be more anxious, 'Oh my gosh,' as opposed to just getting through it."

Said Patriots Director of Personnel Nick Casario, "It'll be an interesting dynamic because you'll get through Round One, and you'll take a breath. I think what it will really enable teams to do is say, 'We've gone through the first round, we've had 32 players that are picked.' Now, you can look at the board and say, 'OK, here are the players that we like and, OK, we're going to Day Two.'

"When you're done with the second and third round, and then, you hit the pause button again, and then take another look and see what you have left. And then you go to the next day. So it will be interesting, how it all breaks up. But I mean every team will have a plan in place. I'm sure we'll have a plan in place.

"I think it gives you time to think. There's a lot longer nights after the draft when you're sitting back up there looking at the players you need the next day."

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