The reason is that this year several grinches have conspired to steal our Draft-day Christmas. The three-day event will start on Thursday with the first round selections, but we all know the Saints traded their 2012 top pick for RB Marc Ingram last year. The second and third rounds will be selected on Friday, but we all know the Saints lost their second-rounder as a penalty for Bountygate. Beginning at 6 p.m. CST, teams have up to seven minutes to ponder their second-round pick, a round that could last up to three hours. That time limit drops in the third round to five minutes per team, which means the Saints will not be on the clock until around 10 p.m. or so Friday night. Make your spouse happy and go out to dinner or see a movie, and you can still be back in time to watch the Saints make their selection. Talk about a late-arriving crowd ...
For the sake of full disclosure, I must admit that the Saints organization during my ten years there engaged in an annual pool that probably would be banned under today's pristine policies. It was not a pool concocted by rogue coaches or zealous players but one that was, in fact, conducted by president and general manager Jim Finks. The pool was to bet on how long the first round would last. Everybody in the room, which included the team hierarchy on down to scouts, coordinators and interested observers, would fork over five or ten dollars and then try and predict the minute the last pick in the first was made.
It was not as simple as it sounds. In those days, each one of the 28 teams drafting (there are 32 teams today) could take as much as 15 minutes to make or trade their first-round selection. If every team took the maximum amount, the first round could last seven hours. However, the trick was to figure out how many teams had targeted one player who was available at their slot and would "turn in their card" quickly. I do not remember specifically if owner Tom Benson participated, but he was in the room and knowing his penchant for Saturday night card games when the team went on the road, I would not be surprised.
This draft will be the first under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which severely limits a team's exposure to the financial risk that comes with missing on a high first-round pick. That might encourage some teams to trade up, as Washington did when it traded up to the No. 2 slot, ostensibly to take Baylor QB Robert Griffin III. The new rookie scale also requires that any player taken in the top 10 to have their contract option tied to the top 10 players at that position. First rounders from 11 on down are tied to a much lower salary standard. In another new wrinkle, third rounders and beyond are required to have a clause in their contracts which increases their pay based on performance.
This year, the latter is the only one that will concern Saints fans, who have the luxury of arriving fashionably late, after the party is well under way.
by Jim Miller, former Exec. VP of New Orleans Saints
Don't forget to check out his website: www.JWMillerSports.com