It's Draft Week ... Finally

The NFL draft used to be two days—on a Saturday and Sunday—before moving to the current three-day format, including two nights in primetime, in 2010. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
The NFL draft used to be two days—on a Saturday and Sunday—before moving to the current three-day format, including two nights in prime time, in 2010. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

An idea for a four-day draft.         

I’ll make a trade with you, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: You put the draft back in April, and I’ll support a four-day draft. I actually don’t think a four-day draft is a terrible idea. I don’t love it, but digest how the draft breaks down now, using the 2014 draft as an example:

Day 1: 32 picks.
Day 2: 68 picks (including four compensatory picks).
Day 3: 156 picks (including 28 compensatory picks).

It’s misleading to say Day 3 is four rounds. It’s actually five, if you include the nearly full round of compensatories. Those 156 picks come in a cascade, with little time for interpretation. Moving it to a fourth day, logically, would make Day 3 cover rounds four and five, with the final day wrapping up rounds six and seven—but with something added at the end. How about this revamped schedule for April 23-26, 2015:

Day 1: 32 picks.
Day 2: 68 picks (including four compensatories).
Day 3: 76 picks (including 12 compensatories).
Day 4: 80 picks (including 16 compensatories) … plus a two-hour “Top Undrafted Free-Agents Show” to follow.

If 7.5 million people watch some portion of the NFL scouting combine, then some appreciable fraction of that will watch to see who has a shot to be the next Arian Foster or Kurt Warner. ESPN would drop off at the end of the seventh round, most likely, and the NFL could get ratings juice by putting two hours of Daniel Jeremiah and (if he still has a voice left) Mike Mayock on NFL Network, breaking down the first two hours of the annual post-draft land rush that sees teams sprinting to sign preferred undrafted players.

But the league has to come to its senses and help teams out here by realizing that holding the draft 19 weeks after the regular season—and just 11 weeks before the start of training camp—hurts teams’ chances to get rookies ready to play on day one of the regular season. This is not just a media or public issue (though the public is so sick of draft prep now, from what I get on Twitter from fans, that they could scream); it’s an issue of football preparedness. You don’t think two more weeks of being inside the playbook isn’t going to help Johnny Manziel be ready to start opening day, if that’s what his team prefers? It’s unfair to hamstring the 32 coaching staffs by not giving them their rookies in any sort of camp setting until the middle of May—for no good reason.

* * * 

If you watch one highlight this week, watch this.

The audio isn’t great on Peyton Manning singing “Folsom Prison Blues” at his Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital charity gala last week (the second stanza gets better), but the visual is tremendous—Manning in a business suit, complete with pocket square. Check it out here.

The best thing is to hear Manning, if you strain, singing one of Johnny Cash’s most memorable passages ever, with country singer Jake Owen by his side.

“When I was just a baby my mama told me, ‘Son,
always be a good boy, don’t ever play with guns.’
But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die …
When I hear that whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry.’’

Offseason karaoke. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Manning is due to appear on the “Late Show With David Letterman” tonight in New York. If there is a God, Letterman will ask Manning for a rerun. With better audio.

* * *

Happy trails, Gary Smith.

In a pleasant way, the long-time long-form Sports Illustrated writer Gary Smith has always gone against the grain. No interest in social media, no interest in covering the biggest events … but an abiding interest in telling the best stories in sports. Not the most famous stories, or the stories involving the biggest names. But stories to be loved by the biggest fans and people who don’t care about sports at all. That’s his gift—to make everyone read stories about sports people voraciously. Smith, one of the best writers in any genre, said last week he was retiring from the magazine business. He’s going to write a book of fiction and see how he likes it.

I caught up with Smith as he drove from his home in South Carolina to a meditation retreat in Maryland. A few thoughts from a man I don’t know well but admire greatly, starting with meditation, drifting to his favorite stories, and what life holds for him:

“Meditation’s very interesting. I really enjoy it. I’ll get away for eight or nine days. During the day, you get totally silent. You meditate for seven or eight hours a day. Then you talk in the evening. I think I learn more in those eight or nine days than I would learn doing anything else for the same period of time.

SI Honors Gary Smith

Friends, co-workers and others pick their favorite stories from the SI writer's legendary career. The Best of Gary Smith

“It’s so hard to pick stories, but I think I would have to start with ‘Damned Yankee.’ [The 1997 story is about John Malangone, a catcher of great promise for the Yankees whose career was ruined by the hidden secret that 5-year-old John accidentally killed his uncle with a javelin.] The stories that spilled out of John, the unbelievable psychic residue of carrying a loaded secret for most of his life, the suffering he went through. The potency of the material was overwhelming. We still talk today. Then I’d have to say the [1988] story about Muhammad Ali and his entourage. That’s a story about a rocketship that stops on a dime, and how everyone close to Ali, in all walks of life, had to remake their lives. I loved that because it tells the story of what happens when the money train stops. Where does everyone go? What do they do? Then the [2006] Andre Agassi story, about how hard he worked over the years to find himself. I never worked with someone who wanted to figure himself out alongside of me. At the beginning, he thought I was going to story on one facet of his life. Just one. I said, ‘No. I want the whole thing.’ ”

That led to this tremendous Smith passage, setting up the story:

“One Andre, two Andres, three Andres, four. Five Andres, six Andres, seven Andres, more. Has any athlete ever changed as much as Andre Agassi? Sure, you’d watched Tiger Woods change his swing, Michael Jordan change his sport. But who changes himself? Metamorphosis is the rarest achievement in sports. Why would a man bother to change when he’s got the American dream by the throat? Maybe it’s just too damn risky; what if it puts out the fire that forged his steel?”

I told him I loved his Pat Summitt story, because of the angle he told it from. He could have tailed Summitt for a few days and heard everything, but no, he found one of her Tennessee basketball recruits, Michelle Marciniak, who could tell the story even better—because of the overpowering effect Summitt had on her life, and on so many lives.

Smith: “Sometimes you have to move the camera to a different side of the room. After a few days, I began to focus on Michelle. Michelle in the cauldron. Imagine being a teenager and being thrown into this intense world. That turned out to be a much better way to tell the story.” 

Smith’s advice to young writers: “I think you have to be on two tracks. One: Write a lot. Keep a journal. Practice your writing all the time. Two: Interviewing … I think it is so much about your own development as a person. Can you get virtual strangers to deliver intimate material? If you are going to write great stories, you have to be able to do that. So you have to read a lot. Read about different human beings. Read about different things. Travel a lot. Walk into any world, any place, any sociological environment, and get comfortable. That’s important.

“My decision … I got the sense I’d be more lit up creating something else, something new. I’m trying a novel. Who knows? I haven’t second-guessed my decision at all. I am incredibly grateful for all the wonderful things people have written about me. Some of the things … Joe Posnanski wrote something so beautiful …  [The NBCSports.com columnist and former SI scribe wrote that Smith was “a wizard. His magic did not look easy. It did not even look possible.”] Do you have his email? Can you get it and text it to me? I have to thank him.”

So now Smith disappears into himself at the meditation retreat.

“After a few days of getting my ego over-inflated, it’ll be good to go somewhere and get a giant needle for that.”

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210 comments
Mr.MurderMurphy
Mr.MurderMurphy

It's still Rock n' Roll to me..... wooo!

The draft pushback seriously compresses player development time, this might be a year that B plan Free Agents bring the team along even faster.


If the Rams go QB whoever it is gets compared to RGIII forever. Do you pressure a kid that much or get sure safe pick or trade back and play it safer?

Anaximandar
Anaximandar

I do not like the draft being pushed back 2 week, and I don't think I'd be a fan of 4 days of drafting.  I was thinking that, as a fan, I wouldn't mind the draft being spread out a bit more.  What if they had Round 1 of the draft the 3rd week of April, Round 2/3 the 4th week, and the rest the first week of May?  I know I'm pretty up to speed on all the first/second round quality players.. but with a week of media coverage in between each draft day, the story would shift to start analyzing the later round players. I would greatly enjoy the story shifting to other players for a time and all the speculation that would go along with that.

RandallAllen
RandallAllen

"The [Redskins] story’s not going away"   That's because it's a media-created, media-driven story.  I'll keep saying this until it's old: my wife is Cherokee and she doesn't care about the name of the Washington NFL team.  Her mother--God rest her soul--became a fan of the team PRECISELY because of the name of the team.  Finally, when Red Mesa (AZ) High School--which is located in the heart of the Navajo Reservation--changes the name of its teams from the--you guessed it--Redskins, then we can talk about the Washington NFL team changing its nickname. Until then, it's not an issue!

daveg2011
daveg2011

Please no more on those red sox....enough already!!! Where were all these "fans" before they actually won a series???

RickHendrick
RickHendrick

 Thank you for the piece on Gary Smith. I recall with great fondness the Thursday arrival of my Sports Illustrated, circa 1964, when a twelve year-old sports nut could settle in and read several beautifully written long form stories. Each issue was solid gold to me, and I kept them neatly stacked on a shelf, where I could peruse them again and again.

  I met Frank Deford at his brother in law's house in Kennebunkport (interrupting him as he was banging away on a huge upright typewriter, but he couldn't have been more gracious) in the summer of '68, and for this sixteen year-old, it was better than meeting the president.

gary41
gary41

The Rams have the time and the position to look at everybody.  They are in the cat bird seat for this one.  The more time, the more speculation.  Drives analysts crazy.  

clt0002
clt0002

There was an article in Alabama about Fisher's connection with Robinson, his son has played on the same team with him at Auburn for the past few years. I couldn't be happier for the guy. His family had to flee their home during Katrina and he grew up very poor. There was an article about how his mother couldn't afford tickets to any of his games. I hope he does well and wish him the best. 

QuinBagwell
QuinBagwell

How could Houston not draft a player who gives them instant national attention and coverage, and brings with him a talent which many believe will make him an extraordinary success? Manziel offers Houston more to gain than any other team. With him will come hordes of jones sickened cowboy fans, and the ability to move the needle for Houston to overtake Dallas as the premier franchise in Texas. You gotta take that shot !

davewr58
davewr58

You said "I understand all the status-quo fans of the team, and Snyder, who think this is PC America run amok" … no you don't, because you continue to attack Synder. It IS PC run amok and you liberals need to give it a rest. It's interesting that the name has been okay for most of Washington's 82 years of existence, but once the white liberals decided that the name was offensive, it had to go. Who are you going after next … schools and pro teams who have animals as mascots? Might offend PETA, you never know. I hope Snyder sticks to his guns and keeps the name, just to upset you left-wingers.

JimBowski
JimBowski

Great job peter--two early season jock sniffs for peyton!

EdwardKirby
EdwardKirby

The biggest surprise of this year's draft will be the dearth of trades. There is simply too much talent, and everyone will be wanting to trade down (so as to accumulate more picks), and there will be few takers.

The exception might be the top five to seven picks.

gary7
gary7

Just like that idiot that writes for the Washington Post Sport Dept, you looked under a rock and found 2 scum balls to "Change The Name", McCain has screwed over Indian Tribes for years in Arizona and that traitor Reid is in a private land grab with his son and the Chinese.  Indian Drunks,Bad Comedians and crooked politicians you all have quoted in the last week or so saying the name should change, not to mention what Botox Bob will whine out next, stick to your fantasy of pretending you could be a GM in the National Football League or at least the next time you want to quote some nim-wit that you think is prevalent to spread your own personal narrative, take the time and see who and what they really are.

number18
number18

Idiot Reid and Idiot McCain are about to get Their names changed--senator will be dropped.

Frotoon
Frotoon

I thought King was never going to use the word Redskins again in an article.

bobbie johnson
bobbie johnson

I'm offended that a man who should be serving the back end of his prison sentence for accessory to murder (Ray Lewis) is a well respected host on ESPN. 

IdDoHannahStorm
IdDoHannahStorm

Washington should just change the logo to the Spanish 'redskin" nut to shut people up.  Peter would probably still be offended on behalf of the allergic.

bobbie johnson
bobbie johnson

"Redskins" is a name that mostly elite white liberals like King find offensive.  These people constantly need new causes to run to, and this is just the latest.  Save the Whales and Acid Rain are no longer chic. 

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

also what's ridiclous is guess what you know the nfl said they had to move the draft back to may because of the show at radio city music hall, well guess what the show was cancelled, and the nfl has known for a while, so they could've easily had the draft 2 weeks ago

DanBayliss
DanBayliss

I run a bunch of half and full marathons, Peter! Where can I geta MMQB shirt?? I'll run the next one in your shirt!!

Dan

ecp_unix
ecp_unix

So, was the group Kansas singing "The People Of The South Wind" offensive?

Mike26
Mike26

I am really sick of this whole Redskins thing - it's a non-event that some liberals are still insisting on trying to make a national issues.  It never has been, isn't now, and never will be.  Having our "top" Congress folks (which they're not) waste time on this is embarrassing to this country.  There's not ANY polls outside this minority group's (the group trying to make this an issue) small minds that say it needs to be changed.


Enough is enough.  Get back to football.

hayhowesq
hayhowesq

@RandallAllen  Oh come on. The media couldn't drive a story if no one was paying attention. And, as the stories have made clear not all minorities agree with your wife. The fact she thinks the way she does, is no reason to stop covering the story.

RickHendrick
RickHendrick

Hi Dave, Your inference that Red Sox fans are bandwagoners couldn't be further from the truth. All of New England suffered with each losing year, loving our Sox through the 86 year drought.

Many fans, including my father, lived a full life and died without seeing the Red Sox win a World Series, and when they finally did it in 2004, my tears flowed for him and for all lifelong Sox fans who couldn't be there.

   So to answer your question, that's where we fans were.


Mike26
Mike26

@QuinBagwell  You're correct.  Teams should ALWAYS listen to their fan bases...

dfgomaha
dfgomaha

@number18 senator Is for life if you watch the sunday news programs...

Enusmith1
Enusmith1

Can you back up your statement with proof?

YuSuk
YuSuk

Because there aren't any republicans who find the name offensive? Are you sure about that? Why do you have to blame liberals for everything? Redskins IS offensive to many people. Just because you don't think it is doesn't mean everyone feels that way. Why are your beliefs so much more important than people who do find it offensive? We are talking about tens of thousands of people, it's not like there are only a dozen people who are upset. Too bad the South couldn't just secede so all the republican bigots could live in harmony together while they ruin everything around them.

tmarlin1221
tmarlin1221

@Mike26  Or change the washington team's name to the Jewskins rather than Redskins.  Snyder shouldn't have a problem with it, since he's not offended by redskins at all.  

Mike26
Mike26

@RickHendrick  And now they've gone from nice fan base story to overindulgent greedy corporation with lazy players....it's another reason why people have left MLB.

Joe79
Joe79

@YuSuk  


 Learn the origin and original use of the word and then explain how and why it should be or is offensive to anyone!!!  The Native Americans were the first to use the the term to describe themselves in negotiations with white settlers so get over yourself drama queen!


Oklahoma means Land of the Red People in the Choctaw Nation and it is a term that was created by a full blooded Choctaw, Rev. Allen Wright, who is considered to be one of the most honest and integritous individuals to ever walk the planet.  

ecp_unix
ecp_unix

@YuSuk Uh, it was a bunch of Democrat bigots that seceded. Lincoln was a Republican.

Mike26
Mike26

@YuSuk  Even PK's best efforts at polling folks and researching anti-Redskin name groups rarely passes 30%.  That's a small amount of people - even with the name-dropping PK integrates into his writing it doesn't sway more people.  In fact, mentioning those two in particular is foolhardy because both are on their way out of significance = McCain is already there.

WadeNelson
WadeNelson

@YuSuk  I didn't know increasing everybody's standard of living, providing an abundant amount of jobs, and not being trillions of dollars in debt would be considered "ruining everything around them."

Mike26
Mike26

@tmarlin1221 @Mike26  You need to stop posting the same stupid comment over and over  - it doesn't make it any smarter.

Enusmith1
Enusmith1

Who are you referring to? Was everything lollipops and gum drops before Obama? Wow what a twisted mentality you have.

tmarlin1221
tmarlin1221

@Mike26 @tmarlin1221  You need to stop using other men's images as your avatar.  Lusting over men is not what this website is for.  

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