Time limits might be shortened for draft picks

Updated: May 17, 2007, 4:30 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Looking for a streamlined, more manageable and maybe ready-for-primetime NFL draft? Apparently, so is commissioner Roger Goodell.

Perhaps as a precursor to eventually presenting the first round as a primetime event, likely on a Friday, Goodell is expected to broach the subject of reducing the time limits for making selections in the first two rounds when owners convene next Tuesday in Nashville for the league's annual spring meeting.

This year's draft included the longest first round in history, at six hours and eight minutes. It also had the longest first day, with the first three rounds stretching 11 hours, four minutes.

A change in the time limits may not be enacted at Tuesday's one-day session, where the headline agenda item will be the awarding of Super Bowl XLV in 2011 to Phoenix, Dallas or Indianapolis. But in advance of the Nashville meeting, NFL sources told ESPN.com that Goodell has sought guidance from the influential competition committee and requested that the members of the committee gauge sentiment around the league for tightening the limits in the early rounds.

Several sources said there is considerable support for doing so.

The current time limits are 15 minutes for the first round, 10 minutes for the second, and five minutes for the final five rounds. The competition committee is expected to recommend time limits of 10 minutes for the first round, seven minutes for the second, and five minutes for the remaining rounds.

Because the draft falls under the purview of the commissioner, a formal vote technically isn't necessary to enact changes in the lottery, but Goodell is not inclined to act unilaterally on the matter. Instead, the owners could reduce the time limits by simply affirming a recommendation from the competition committee.

Such a move would significantly reduce the time required for the first round. Almost as important, it would provide the NFL an opportunity to give prime-time exposure to what has become its biggest offseason event, one that has exploded in popularity over the last several years, and which drew record television ratings last month.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.