2014 draft officially moved to May 8-10
The NFL has officially announced that its moving the 2014 draft back two weeks from the normal start date, with Round 1 set for May 8 next offseason. That's the only change to the calendar that the league will undertake; there had been rumors that the annual scouting combine would shift to a later date as well, perhaps taking place after the open of the league year and free agency.
We took a look on Audibles last week at the potential fallout of the NFL's scheduling adjustments, but this could wind up being a lot of bluster over minimal news.
The most pressing issue was the possibility of swapping the league year's start date and the NFL combine. Under that scenario, teams would have had up to two weeks prior to the combine to dive into free agency, meaning that many of the elite free agents might have been off the table and most teams would have had a better sense for their areas of need heading into the combine.
Instead, the status quo will stay in place, with the combine set for Feb. 18-25 and the league year beginning on March 11.
It still remains to be seen exactly how teams take advantage of their extra pre-draft prep time. NFL rules still will limit teams to bringing in 30 prospects for pre-draft visits, but scouting departments may be able to cast a bit of a wider net as far as who those 30 prospects are with more days in their back pockets.
The impact on rookie minicamps also is still up in the air. Every team, to this point, has held a rookie camp in early May, followed by a set of OTAs (offseason team activities) later in the month and then mandatory minicamp sometime in June. The 2014 draft will wrap on May 10 -- by that date this year, all 32 teams either had completed or just opened rookie camp. When all is said and done, the NFL's delayed start to the draft probably will have a negligible impact on the offseason. Only if other key league dates are moved, for the 2015 season or beyond, will franchises really have to adjust how they do business.