Roger Goodell confirmed Tuesday at the NFL's spring meetings in Boston that the draft will be moved to May in 2014, sometime between the 8th and 17th of the month.
Goodell said the change was needed next year because the venue, Radio City Music Hall, will host an Easter show in April.
"At this late stage, for us to do it the right way, we don't see having any choice but to move the date," he said.
However, Goodell said he expects the draft to remain in May, with other adjustments to the NFL's calendar, including the dates for the combine and the opening of free agency, to be discussed with the players' union.
He said trying to stage the draft in April would mean the NFL would have to find a different venue or city. He emphasized, however, that the league is pleased with its experiences at Radio City Music Hall.
"We think we have found a location in New York that meets our requirements and where we think we can continue to grow the event," he said.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, Goodell can set the date of the draft without the NFLPA's approval, although he would prefer to have the union's blessing to maintain league harmony.
Goodell said owners "didn't reach any conclusion" in their discussion about changing the dates of the combine and free agency.
"We are negotiating that with the union," he said. "We have a discussion with them sometime in the next couple of weeks, and I am sure that will come up. We think that is a good change for fans and for football."
A source has told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that in changes to the calendar being discussed, the league year would start before the combine beginning in 2015. The NFLPA wanted to give free agents a chance to find new teams sooner.
The commissioner said it was important to him that the union signs off on any changes to the league's calendar.
"This is not secretive. We share what the overall strategy is and what we are trying to accomplish with the players," Goodell said. "We went to them initially to do that, to get their feedback. We want to make sure we do it right, and that includes getting player input."
Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.