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NFL is looking for one more referee

A look at our projected depth chart for the referee position, as the NFL has one more official to promote to white hat.



The NFL still has one more referee position to fill after the departure of Super Bowl LIII referee John Parry to ESPN.

Referees Walt Coleman and Pete Morelli retired at the end of the 2018 season, and are being replaced with Adrian Hill and Scott Novak.

Typically, a successor is named by senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron right away, or as was the case last year when an unprecedented 4 referees retired, no more than a week. Sources say that a decision on who will be promoted is expected on Monday.

The selection process has been overwhelmed with the 7th referee vacancy over two seasons. The last time an officiating head had that many white hats to promote was Mike Pereira, but that was spaced over 5 years. The likely list of candidates, roughly in an order of probability according to our analysis, is emerging for the vacant position:

Brad Rogers

Rogers completed his second season as a NFL deep wing. He worked this past season on Shawn Smith’s crew. He worked a divisional playoff this postseason, his first year eligible.

Previously he worked in the Southeastern Conference and Conference USA as a referee.

Rogers got his start officiating in high school football in Texas in 1991, and one of his high school crews featured officials who all eventually worked Division I college football.

He had an audition at referee this past preseason (Bills at Bears), and did an outstanding job.

I expect Rogers to get a white hat very soon.

Land Clark

The NFL hired Clark for the 2018 season as a field judge on Carl Cheffers crew. It was a bit of a surprise that the NFL took Clark because he is in his mid-50s. To my knowledge, that made Clark the oldest NFL rookie official in the Super Bowl era.

Clark was a referee for several years in the Pac-12 conference and we almost always saw him referee a New Years Day bowl game. He also worked the college football national championship game.

Since Clark was a rookie this past year, he wasn’t eligible for a playoff game. We don’t know how he graded.

The NFL has promoted officials to referee after one season, including Jerry Markbreit and Tom White. They could do the same with Clark.

Clark is in phenomenal physical shape and could easily put in 10 years as a referee. Also, a shorter-term tenure at referee by Clark could help the NFL space out referee turnover in the next 10-20 years and not have a mass exodus at the position like last year.

If the NFL wants Clark to be a referee, the time is now. If not this year, next year for sure.

Don Willard

Willard worked as a Big 10 referee and just completed his rookie season as a field judge on John Hussey’s crew. I watched him work college games and he has all the tools necessary to be a successful NFL referee.

Look for him to audition for referee in the 2019 preseason. He’s in his late 40s, so time is on his side.

Alan Eck

Eck just completed his third season — one as a deep wing and two at umpire on Tony Corrente’s crew. 

While Eck had much success as a college referee in the Big 12 conference, he has yet to find playoff success in the NFL. This does not necessarily mean he is not playoff grade, which is due to an assignment oddity. For the past 2 seasons, no umpires have received alternate assignments in the playoffs, except for the Super Bowl, in order to have an alternate referee for all games. This means we don’t have a true picture of performance at that position compared to others.

If he starts to excel playoff-wise at umpire, look for the NFL to give him an audition for referee. 

Barry Anderson

Anderson has been an umpire, side judge and a field judge since joining the NFL in 2007.  He was umpire on Carl Cheffers crew this season.

He has collegiate experience at the referee position. He was seen and heard in the NFL Network’s SoundFX in 2013 when he issued a sideline warning on the Raiders bench when they encroached the sideline border during the game.

Anderson called seven playoff games in his career — four as a deep wing and the rest at umpire — including a divisional round this year.

After 12 seasons and five referee auditions, his opportunity to be a referee may be closing. 

Jonah Monroe

Monroe just completed his fourth season at side judge on Jerome Boger’s crew. He’s worked in the playoffs in two out of three years eligible, including a divisional playoff game this year.

Monroe worked in the American Athletic Conference in college, mostly as a deep wing. He worked a few non-conference, early-season games as a referee in college. While he doesn’t have much experience as a college referee, the NFL could take a look at him.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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