Do you feel like the NFL Draft starts way too late into the season? Are you sick of the seemingly endless buildup to the draft, with weeks and weeks of mock drafts and speculation driving you crazy? Do you want your team's rookies to have more time to prepare for their first season in the NFL and have a potentially bigger impact?
NFL and NFLPA are on verge of pushing back draft to May and moving up start of league year to before combine, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 20, 2013
That's right, the two big players in the league are apparently going to make draft preparation even longer by moving the NFL Draft back a few weeks into May. Also interesting about this proposal is that the earlier start of the league year (before the Scouting Combine in February) means that free agency would start earlier as well. The frenzy for the big-name free agents would go on before the teams get their first chance to interview draft prospects and see them go through their individual drills.
This could be beneficial for teams that use the draft to fill in gaps that they could not (or chose not) to fill in free agency. The Green Bay Packers are of course one of those teams under the current front office, as they tend not to sign big-name free agents and improve almost exclusively through the draft. However, if another team were to take the reverse approach and instead planned their free agent strategy based on the strengths of various positions available in the draft, this would throw a major wrench into that process.
Ultimately, I do not see this change in the schedule affecting the Packers' off-season strategy much, if at all. Ted Thompson and company will continue to draft and develop talent as they have for several years. It might cause more consternation with fans who don't like the draft hype and it could slow the progress of rookie players ever so slightly, but ultimately it should not substantially affect the team. After all, plenty of rookies made major impacts in 2011 with no off-season program at all before training camp - there's no reason to think that losing a week or two of playbook study would make a substantial change in their NFL readiness.
UPDATE: This doesn't appear to be a short-term trial either.
NFL and NFLPA are close to enacting these calendar changes for the next three years.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 20, 2013
UPDATE: The combine may actually be shifting back a few weeks along with the Draft in the long term, rather than the league year starting a few weeks earlier:
Looks like 2014 NFL draft will be held May 15-17. In 2015 and 2016, league year would start early March, combine mid-March.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 20, 2013