The NFL draft fatigue is evidently very real, and hopefully the league will learn something from this in the future rather than continue to tempt fate and risk losing interest in their offseason goings-on, now that the league has successfully turned itself into a year-round business.
The league has expressed its interest before in creating greater separation between their major offseason events, with the Combine taking place in February and free agency beginning close to mid-March.
In recent years, the draft has typically taken place about six weeks afterward, in late April, but this year, it’s happening about two months later, beginning on Thursday—at long last.
It’s not just the fans that are growing weary, and perhaps less interested, as time slowly bleeds on. Team officials are also finding the extra time on their hands little more than a nuisance, rather than a scouting aide.
Earlier this week, former Pittsburgh Steelers personnel man and current Philadelphia Eagles adviser Tom Donahoe gave his thoughts on the timing of the draft, expressing concerns that it leads to overthinking.
Ian Rapoport recently said that the general managers around the league that he’s spoken to have said that the more tape they watch, the less they like the players they’re scouting. The added time makes it easier to find the warts, which could result in psyching yourself out of drafting a high quality prospect.
The New Orleans Saints are among surely the many teams that believe that they’ve already done their homework on the draft, and are attempting to stave off the dangers of overthinking by actually taking a step back.
According to Mike Triplett for ESPN, upwards of 50 Saints personnel are taking a weekend trip to Las Vegas to relieve themselves of the tunnel vision over the draft created by the excessive amount of time they have on their hands.
They intend to come back on Monday with fresh eyes to wrap up pre-draft procedures. And perhaps this is an approach that other teams should explore, as the article also notes that “sources said the Saints are one of many NFL teams that have grown weary of the extra weeks of preparation”.
With even their own teams tiring of the artificially elongated offseason process, perhaps it’s time for the league chiefs to take notice and realize that they can only spread the butter so thinly over the bread before you can’t taste it anymore, and instead look for something more palatable to eat.