"Time is what we want most, but what we use worst." - William Penn
NEW YORK GIANTS general manager Jerry Reese was asked the other day for his opinion on the new format that will spread the draft's seven rounds over 3 days.
"It just gives us more time to overanalyze what we have already overanalyzed, basically," Reese said.
Nobody does overanalysis better than the NFL. It spends millions of dollars and countless man hours scouting prospects, then allows itself to be swayed by how a kid looks without a shirt on or how many times he bench-presses 225 pounds at his Pro Day workout.
The NFL is the only league where coaches feel the need to work 18-hour days and sleep on their office couch preparing for a game, then lose track of how many timeouts they've got left or what down it is.
This week, Reese and the rest of the league's GMs and coaches will have another golden opportunity to overanalyze when, for the first time in history, they get not one, but two overnight breaks during the draft, which, also for the first time in history, will feature the first three rounds in prime time.
The first round will be conducted on Thursday evening. Then everybody will theoretically go to bed, wake up, have breakfast, drive the kids to school, spend some quality time with Mrs. Coach/GM, then go back to the office and start planning for the second and third rounds, which will be held Friday evening. Then, another overnight break before completing the final four rounds on Saturday.
The obvious motivation for spreading the draft over 3 days and conducting the first three rounds in prime time is to get even more eyeballs watching what already has become the second biggest event on the Goodellian calendar to the Super Bowl.
Opinions around the league on the new format are mixed. Some are intrigued by the overnight break after the first round and think it will give teams an opportunity to recalibrate their draft boards and plot a better second-round strategy. Others, like Reese, think it will just give teams more time to screw up.
"Instead of rolling into the second round like we usually do, we'll have a lot of time on our hands to sit there and look and say, 'I can't believe that so-and-so is still on the board right now,' '' Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said. "There's probably going to be a couple of those players for each team.
"I think we're all going to be sitting there looking at that late that first night, saying, 'Is this something that we want to consider doing because we can't believe that guy is still on the board?' I think time is always something that makes people think a little bit more about what's left. There are quite a few teams, including us, that have multiple second-round selections. So it will be interesting to see what happens and how flexible other people want to be as far as moving down or moving up."
The Broncos are one of five teams with multiple picks in the second round (Nos. 43, 45). The other four are the Patriots, who have three (Nos. 44, 47, 53); the Eagles (Nos. 37, 55); the Bucs (Nos. 35, 42); and the Chiefs (Nos. 36, 50).
It is inevitable that there will be at least a few of those "I can't believe he's still on the board" players still unclaimed after Thursday night's first round, particularly if the Raiders' Al Davis does his traditional swan dive into the insanity pool and drafts a 13-year-old middle school sprinter or something just as idiotic.
With a night to think about those gems still available at the top of the second round, will it spawn a flurry of trade-ups? We'll see.
Certainly, you would think the Rams and the Lions, who own the first two picks in the second round, will be getting a lot of phone calls on Friday. But will the overnight break really prompt any more second-round trades than last year when there were seven different deals made in the second round on draft day?
"Normally, when guys have a lot of time at the end of the first day of the draft, they'll go back and have a meeting, take a look at what happened, and see what they can do to climb up in the next round and get back into it," said former Raiders and Bucs coach and current ESPN "Monday Night Football'' analyst Jon Gruden. "I think you'll see a little bit more aggressiveness, possibly more trades, at the start of the second and third day."
Last year, when the second day of the draft began with the third round, the Jets traded up to the top of the third round and grabbed Iowa running back Shonn Greene. Turned out to be a brilliant move. Greene, from Sicklerville, N.J., had two 100-yard rushing performances in the playoffs last year as the Jets made it to the AFC Championship Game.
"It'll be interesting to see what happens in the second round," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "I can see it being approached more like the 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, everybody did that in the past after the second round. But now we have two opportunities to do that.
"I think that as the draft unfolds, like last year, we saw a run on [offensive] tackles. There are trends that happen that are unique to each individual draft that, as they unfold, when you get to a stopping point, you recalibrate.
"I'm not saying that, well, we gave this guy this grade and now we think he's something else. But I think your draft strategy and how you view the board - especially if you have three second-round picks like we do - may change."
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock is not a big fan of the new format. He thinks it will negate the advantage good-drafting teams currently have over their less competent competition.
"The teams that historically draft well and prepare well and trust their boards don't like the new format because they feel like it's giving an edge to teams that aren't as well prepared and don't react as well under pressure," Mayock said.
"If you think you're pretty prepared and pretty good and have a lot of savvy veterans in your draft room, typically, at the end of that first round, things get quicker. Crazy things may or may not have happened. In the first round, boards can get decimated, and all of a sudden, the pressure is on in the second round. You've got less time to make decisions. You get a chance to put pressure on a team about a trade. I think that's where the good teams historically feel they've been able to take advantage of that.
"Now, the teams that might not be as good and might not trust their board as much and don't react as well to pressure, they can go home and say, 'OK, let's regroup.' ''
Here is a breakdown of the new NFL draft format over 3 days:
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Time per selection: 10 minutes
Eagles' pick: 24th
Note: Seattle (Nos. 6 and 14) and San Francisco (Nos. 13 and 17) each have two selections in the first round. Carolina and Chicago do not have first-round picks.
When: Friday, 6 p.m.
Selections: 66, including three compensatory picks
Time per selection: 7 minutes in Round 2, 5 minutes in Round 3
Note: Washington used its third-round pick to select defensive end Jeremy Jarmon in the supplemental draft.
Round 2, 37 (from Washington)
Round 2, 55
Round 3, 70 (from Seattle)
Round 3, 87
When: Saturday, 10 a.m.
Selections: 157, including 29 compensatory picks
Time per selection: 5 minutes
Round 4, 105 (from Cleveland)
Round 4, 125
Round 5, 137 (from Cleveland)
Round 6, 200 (from Indianapolis)
Round 7, 243 (compensatory)