Expanded draft could cut down on UDFA chaos

The current draft rules create chaos when it comes to undrafted free agents, especially since the rule against lining up deals with undrafted free agents is routinely ignored. One way to reduce the chaos could be to expand the draft.

In theory, the idea of adding rounds to the draft won’t be appealing — especially to the NFL Players Association. Fewer rounds means fewer players who are told where their careers will begin, with no say whatsoever in where they go.

In practice, however, it could make sense to add another round or two (or maybe even three), in order to cut down on the premature land rush that forces players and agents to make unofficial commitments while multiple rounds of the draft are still playing out.

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Here’s why. As a league source with extensive knowledge of the process recently explained it to PFT, the draft consists as a practical matter of enough players to get through nine rounds before the talent drops off dramatically. Also, in the later rounds of the draft, most teams have a much higher rating on the remaining players on their boards.

That’s because, the longer the draft goes, the more the deviation among the 32 boards reveals itself. Teams find players in round two on whom they had first-round grades. They find players in round four on whom they had second-round grades. As the draft reaches round six and seven, they have a couple of guys left with grades as high as round three.

As a result, teams mobilize to line up unofficial deals with potential undrafted free agents, since those are players they regard as good enough to draft. So why not just extend the process?

Through 1992, the draft had 12 rounds. In 1993, the draft had eight rounds. The next year, the draft dropped to seven rounds.


Again, the union would initially, and justifiably, bristle at the idea of expanding the draft. But if it cuts out the chaos and if the money for the players taken in the eighth or ninth round is good enough to justify it, maybe it could be an alternative to the current free-for-all effort to prematurely line up undrafted free agents.

For now, it’s simply something to explore, for the league and the union and the teams. In the end, it could be a way to introduce order into a process that has become, after the draft ends, more than a little disorderly.

Expanded draft could cut down on UDFA chaos originally appeared on Pro Football Talk