NFL groomed 21 new refs in 2013

Just as NFL teams attempt to improve from one season to the next, so does the league's officiating department.

In an effort to improve officiating next season, the NFL has spent this past year grooming 21 officials in its newly created developmental program with the idea that these officials will be better prepared to step into games as early as next season, a league source told ESPN.

The 21 officials in training have spent time with the current officiating crews, watching how work weekends and games unfold, to get a better idea of the atmosphere they could be thrust into next season.

The belief is many of these officials can step in and provide immediate results.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has made no secret of the fact that he would like to upgrade the league's officiating.

The NFL acknowledged on multiple occasions during the regular season that its officials made mistakes in games, including the Packers-49ers matchup in Week 1, the Giants-Redskins game in Week 13 and a crucial missed call in the Chargers' playoff-clinching win over the Chiefs in Week 17.