How Would Previous Draft Picks Have Changed With The Proposed Rooney Rule Expansion?

On Friday, Jim Trotter of the NFL Network reported that the NFL is proposing an expansion to the Rooney Rule in an effort to improve upon the league’s sclerotic efforts in hiring racial minority to executive, head coach, and coordinator positions. One half of the rule, which would abolish anti-tampering rules for assistant coaches interviewing for coordinator positions, would be very important and significant, if also a straightforward rule change.

The other half, one that has received some skepticism from voices like Mike Florio, Michael Rosenberg, and Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, would radically alter several aspects of the NFL Draft. This article will focus on that portion of the proposal, by taking an objective look at what changes would have happened in previous drafts dating back to 2003, when the Rooney Rule was first established, with the goal of helping observers form an opinion on this part of the proposal.

The changes to the draft are twofold. First, teams that hire head coaches or “primary football executives” (this article will use “general manger” and “GM” as shorthand) of a racial minority will see their draft picks moved up in order, as Trotter explains here:

  • If a team hires a minority head coach, that team, in the draft preceding the coach’s second season, would move up six spots from where it is slotted to pick in the third round. A team would jump 10 spots under the same scenario for hiring a person of color as its primary football executive, a position more commonly known as general manager.
  • If a team were to fill both positions with diverse candidates in the same year, that club could jump 16 spots — six for the coach, 10 for the GM — and potentially move from the top of the third round to the middle of the second round. Another incentive: a team’s fourth-round pick would climb five spots in the draft preceding the coach’s or GM’s third year if he is still with the team. That is considered significant because Steve Wilks and Vance Joseph, two of the four African-American head coaches hired since 2017, were fired after one and two seasons, respectively.

If this rule was applied to previous hires under the Rooney Rule, here are draft pick upgrades that would have resulted. Picks with an asterisk are ones that would have moved up into a different round. I am also considering Chris Grier to have become the “primary football executive” in 2019, meaning that the Dolphins would have been the first team to have placed racial minorities in that position and head coach in the same offseason.

Draft Pick Upgrades Under Expanded Rooney Rule, 2003 to 2020

DraftTeamHC and/or GMOld PickNew PickPlayer Selected
2004BengalsMarvin Lewis81st75thCaleb Miller
2005BearsLovie Smith70th64th*traded for Adewale Ogunleye
2005BengalsMarvin Lewis119th114thEric Ghiaciuc
2005CardinalsDennis Green75th69thEric Green
2006BrownsRomeo Crennel78th72ndTravis Wilson
2006BearsLovie Smith120th115thJamar Williams
2006CardinalsDennis Green107th102ndGabe Watson
2007TexansRick Smith73rd63rdJacoby Jones
2007BrownsRomeo Crennel103rd98th*traded
2008SteelersMike Tomlin88th82ndBruce Davis
2008TexansRick Smith118th113thXavier Adibi
2008GiantsJerry Reese95th85thMario Manningham
200949ersMike Singletary74th68thGlen Coffee
2009GiantsJerry Reese129th124thAndre Brown
2009SteelersMike Tomlin132nd127thtraded
2010BuccaneersRaheem Morris67th61st*Myron Lewis
2010ColtsJim Caldwell94th88thKevin Thomas
201049ersMike Singletary113th108thtraded (used by Patriots to select Aaron Hernandez)
2011VikingsLeslie Frazier74th68thtraded for Randy Moss
2011BuccaneersRaheem Morris104th99thLuke Stocker
2011ColtsJim Caldwell119th114thDelone Carter
2012PanthersRon Rivera73rd67thtraded for Greg Olsen
2012ChiefsRomeo Crennel74th68thDonald Stephenson
2012VikingsLeslie Frazier98th93rd*traded
2013RaidersReggie McKenzie66th56th*Sio Moore
2013PanthersRon Rivera108th103rdEdmund Kugbila
2014RaidersReggie McKenzie107th102ndJustin Ellis
2015BuccaneersLovie Smith65th59th*traded up to 61st for Ali Marpet
2015LionsJim Caldwell88th82ndtraded up to 81st for Alex Carter
2016JetsTodd Bowles83rd77thJordan Jenkins
2016LionsJim Caldwell11th106thMiles Killebrew
2017BrownsHue Jackson65th59th*Larry Ogunjobi
2017JetsTodd Bowles114th109thtraded to draft Brandon Shell
2018BroncosVance Joseph71st65thRoyce Freeman
2018ChargersAnthony Lynn84th79thJustin Jones
2018BrownsHue Jackson105th99th*Antonio Callaway
2019ChargersAnthony Lynn130th125thDrue Tranquill
2020DolphinsBrian Flores & Chris Grier70th54th*Brandon Jones

Most of the attention on the draft change part of the proposal so far has focused upon the above. But the other part of the draft change would be more radical, and it would alter the compensatory draft pick system, as detailed here by Trotter:

If a minority assistant left to become a coordinator elsewhere, his former club would receive a fifth-round compensatory pick. And if a person of color leaves to become a head coach or general manager, his previous team would receive a third-round compensatory pick.

One final provision: Any team that hires a person of color as its quarterbacks coach would receive a compensatory pick at the end of the fourth round if it retains that employee beyond one season.

Hires of coordinators are much more populous than that of head coaches, yet this part of the proposal would give teams entirely new draft picks instead of small movements in the 3rd and 4th rounds. The tables at the end of this article lay out which teams would have been awarded comp picks for the departure of certain coaches to higher jobs with other teams, as well as how many comp picks each team would have accumulated from this rule from 2003 to 2020. Note that the “effective compensatory picks” column is different from the total due to teams barred from receiving more than 4 comp picks in one draft. Please note that these tables are a work in progress, and I may have erroneously omitted or added coaches. If you see any such errors, please correct me by replying to me on Twitter.

Finally, altering the comp pick formula for this purpose may run in conflict with the CBA as written. Art. 6, §10 states that “Compensatory Draft Selections shall be determined in accordance with the rules and procedures set forth in Appendix V, subject to any future changes as to which the parties may agree.” Since App. V obviously does not contain this change, by the letter of the CBA this change may require approval from the NFLPA. In addition, Art. 6, §2(a) explicitly states that the number of comp picks must be exact to the number of teams in the league, which is 32. If this provision is not changed in any negotiation with the NFLPA, then numerous comp picks from the usual process would not be awarded due to being pushed out of the 32 pick limit.

Compensatory Picks Awarded Under Expanded Rooney Rule, 2003 to 2020

DraftTeamCoach or ExecutiveRoleRound
2003CommandersMarvin LewisHC3rd
2003ColtsJim CaldwellQC4th
2003EaglesLeslie FrazierDC5th
2004RamsLovie SmithHC3rd
2004EaglesRon RiveraDC5th
2004RavensDonnie HendersonDC5th
2004JetsJimmy RayeOC5th
2004BengalsAlex WoodOC5th
2005PatriotsRomeo CrennelHC3rd
2005RamsPerry FewellDC5th
2006BroncosRick SmithGM3rd
2006BuccaneersMike TomlinDC5th
2007VikingsMike TomlinHC3rd
2007BengalsHue JacksonOC5th
2007ColtsLeslie FrazierDC5th
2007ChargersBrian StewartDC5th
2008RavensHue JacksonQC4th
2008BearsPep HamiltonQC4th
2008TitansSherman SmithOC5th
2009JetsJimmy RayeOC5th
2010RavensHue JacksonOC5th
2010CardinalsCurtis ModkinsOC5th
2010DolphinsGeorge EdwardsDC5th
2011ChargersRon RiveraHC3rd
2011SeahawksJerry GrayDC5th
2012PackersReggie McKenzieGM3rd
2012SteelersRay HortonDC5th
2012ColtsAlan WilliamsDC5th
2013RavensJim CaldwellQC4th
2013EaglesTodd BowlesDC5th
2013ColtsHarold GoodwinOC5th
2014RavensJim CaldwellHC3rd
2014DolphinsGeorge EdwardsDC5th
2014RavensTeryl AustinDC5th
2015BengalsHue JacksonHC3rd
2015CardinalsTodd BowlesHC3rd
2015SeahawksKen Norton, Jr.DC5th
2015DolphinsKacy RodgersDC5th
2016BillsAnthony LynnHC3rd
2016TitansTerry RobiskieOC5th
2016BengalsVance JosephDC5th
2016LionsCurtis ModkinsOC5th
2017DolphinsVance JosephHC3rd
2017RavensLeslie FrazierDC5th
2017JaguarsRobert SalehDC5th
2018PanthersSteve WilksHC3rd
2018CardinalsByron LeftwichQC4th
2018PanthersAl HolcombDC5th
2019PatriotsBrian FloresHC3rd
2019CardinalsByron LeftwichOC5th
201949ersJoe WoodsDC5th
2019PackersPatrick GrahamDC5th
2020EaglesAndrew BerryGM3rd
2020ColtsMarcus BradyQC4th
TeamComp Picks Awarded3rd4th5th