Minor controversy surrounds 'green room' invitations for the 2024 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft green room
2023 NFL Draft green room / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

For the first time since the 2016 NFL Draft, LA Rams fans have good reason to tune in for Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft. While this is long overdue, there are some things to be aware of in the opening round of the NFL Draft. Since it's been some time since the Rams made a selection in Round 1, let's touch base on one of the unique traditions that occurs on Day 1 of the draft.

Along with the annual NFL Draft comes a number of age old traditions that do not always get a log of press coverage. One such tradition is that of the 'green room.' So let's discuss the green room, a bit about its history, and the minor controversy that is surround the green room in the 2024 NFL Draft.

History of the NFL green Room

The history of the NFL Draft green room is a bit of urban legend. The truth is that there is no true consensus over when it officially started. But we will give you some dates. When the NFL Draft began to gain popularity among TV viewers (thanks to ESPN coverage), the idea began to gain traction over televising the reaction of the top players who might be selected early in Round 1. The problem was that ESPN complained that the cost of placing crews in the homes of top prospects was too expensive.

In an ESPN article on the subject written by ESPN Senior Writer Elizabeth Merrill, the idea to fly in top prospects was the brainchild of "Monday Night Football" producer Jay Rothman, who did the draft for more than a decade. He believed it would be better television to fly prospects to the NFL Draft stage on or about 1996.

The green room was originally intended to simplify televising a player's reaction to hearing his name being called out. Little did Rothman suspect that it would layer an entirely new level of drama to the night's excitement. In 1996, the NFL shied away from inviting a rather reckless running back out of Nebraska names Lawrence Phillips. In his place, the invitation was sent to a high character running back out of Texas A&M named Leeland McElroy.

The problem was that McElroy plummeted to Round 2. He was televised the entire night of Round 1 anguishing over the fact that he did not hear his name called out. And that became symbolic to many prospects who would decline their invitation in future drafts.

Current day controversy

So who has been invited to the 2024 NFL Draft's green room? The NFL wanted to limit the number of players present for Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft. Of the 32 selections made on Day 1, only 16 invitations were sent out.

Per Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, of the 16 invited prospects, Notre Dame OT Joe Alt, Georgia TE Brock Bowers, and Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy have declined the opportunity to walk out on stage in Round 1, instead opting to stay home and share their draft experience at their homes with family and friends. The 2024 NFL Draft prospects who did accept their invitations to spend their draft in the green room include:

  • Caleb Williams, QB, USC (#1 on the consensus draft board)
  • Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina (#2)
  • Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State (#3)
  • Jayden Daniels, QB, (#4)
  • Malik Nabers, WR, LSU (#5)
  • Rome Odunze, WR, Washington (#7)
  • Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama (#8)
  • Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama (#11)
  • Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo (#12)
  • Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA (#16)
  • Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU (#17)
  • J.C. Latham, OL, Alabama (#20)
  • Darius Robinson, EDGE, Missouri (#35)

So where is the controversy? Well, it comes from the fact that some prospects were not invited to the draft event. They are Olu Fashanu (Penn State, #14) and Taliese Fuaga (Oregon State, #15), two top offensive tackles, who did not get an invitation. Florida State's OLB Jared Verse, who is ranked 13th overall, did not get an invitation either. But Missouri's defensive end Darius Robinson, who is projected to be drafted in either Round 1 or Round 2, was invited.

That seems a bit disingenuous.

What was the criteria for invitation. If the goal was to fill the rook with 15 prospects, shouldn't invitations continue until 15 players fill the room?

Will any of the players invited to the green room be forced to sit through the entire event without hearing their names called out? For their sake, I most certainly hope not. But the truth is that it is quite common for a prospect or two to sit out the entire Round 1 and not be selected.

Will one of the green room players hear their name called out by the LA Rams in Round 1? You could make a persuasive argument for each to be selected. But in the end, the Rams have just one pick to make. Let's hope it's a good one.

And as always, thank you for reading.