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The NFL Draft is an annual event held every late-April in which all 32 teams select eligible college players to play for them. This is typically the first time fans for each of the 32 teams can see which players will be part of their team’s future.
Originally, the NFL draft began as just a small gathering of general managers and collegiate players in a small room. Now, the event is held in various cities across an entire weekend window. There’s games, celebrities, concessions and much more as the NFL Draft has turned into one of the sports’ best fan fairs.
Not only is the NFL Draft exciting for fans, but also the players being drafted in it. This is the first time college players find out about their future, one of the most exciting and nerve-wrecking moments of their lives.
How Does The NFL Draft Work?
The NFL Draft was created for two main reasons, to filter the best college players and to assert equality amongst all 32 teams in terms of talent acquisition. The NFL Draft Combine could be the actual ‘filter’ to separate the best college players, but it’s the NFL Draft when players are officially selected and heading to the league.
The league’s balance comes from the draft order, as the team with the worst record gets the first pick in the draft. The team with the second-worst record gets the second pick, and so on and so forth. This process allows for teams who finish at the bottom of the standings to bring in a player that could potentially lift them to the top (or at least relevancy).
The team that wins the Super Bowl picks last, barring any trades.
How Many Rounds And Picks Are There In The NFL Draft?
There are seven rounds in the NFL Draft, with each club receiving one pick in each of the seven rounds. Picks are added and deducted for numerous reasons such as trades, compensatory picks and penalties.
NFL Draft Process And Rules
The NFL Draft lasts for three days, Thursday through Saturday, with all seven rounds taking place. The first round is held on Thursday, while the second and third rounds are held on Friday. Rounds four through seven are all held on Saturday.
Teams have 10 minutes to select a player in the first round, but then the time shortens as the draft progresses. Clubs can take seven minutes to make a pick in the second round, while only getting five minutes from rounds three through six along with compensatory picks.
When the draft reaches the seventh and final round, teams have just four minutes to make a selection. If time expires and a team hasn’t made a selection yet, then the next team in the draft order can begin to make their pick. So although there is no penalty for teams who don’t make a pick in time, it does allow teams to possibly take players they were considering.
How Are Picks Selected In The NFL Draft?
Each team has a table set up in what is called the ‘Selection Square’ – which is the venue where the NFL Draft is taking place. Team draft rooms call their representative in the ‘Selection Square’ when ready to make a selection. This representative writes down the player’s name, position and school before handing the selection to an NFL employee called a ‘runner’.
Once the ‘runner’ receives the selection, the clock is immediately reset for the next team to pick. The ‘runner’ notifies a NFL representative, who then inputs the selected players name into a database that allows all 32 clubs to see the pick.
The ‘runner’ then hands the selection to NFL VP of Player Personnel Ken Fiore, who checks the pick for accuracy before sharing with the commissioner and broadcasting partners for announcement.
What Are Compensatory Picks In The NFL Draft?
Compensatory picks are added picks that allow teams who have lost players to free agency the ability to fill those free agent voids within the NFL Draft. These picks take place at the end of the third through the seventh rounds. The league can award up to 32 compensatory picks per NFL Draft.
Is There Trading In The NFL Draft?
The short answer, yes. Trades are allowed and quite popular in the NFL Draft. Teams can trade their pick to another team for two assets: another pick(s) or a player(s).
Trades can take anytime during the draft or even before it. Teams can begin trading once the NFL Draft order is officially set. Some of the most popular NFL Draft moments have occurred during a trade, such as Ricky Williams to the Saints and even the Chargers sending Eli Manning to New York for Philip Rivers.
Perhaps the most famous NFL Draft trade involved John Elway a week after the event ended. In 1983, the Broncos sent a handful of players to the Baltimore Colts for Elway who was vocal about his displeasure playing for the Colts.
Another famous trade saw the Atlanta Falcons in 2000 trade up for the first pick, allowing the Chargers to select both Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson.
What Is Player Eligibility In The NFL Draft?
Players are immediately eligible for the NFL Draft three years after graduating from high school, while also using all of their college eligibility before the start of next season. Players are only NFL Draft-eligible for the one year after the college eligibility ends.
Biggest NFL Draft Busts
Most NFL Draft busts are quarterbacks, a heavily leaned on position for teams in the event. Most teams picking early in the first round need a quarterback, so it makes sense. It also makes sense that the busts are quarterbacks on bad teams, as it’s difficult for a rookie to turn a team around with a terrible roster around him.
Some of the biggest draft bust names at quarterback include Tim Couch, Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, Matt Leinart, Akili Smith, David Carr and Joey Harrington.
Quarterbacks aren’t the only bust positions though, as running backs and wide receivers also have their fair share of busts. Charles Rogers, Ron Dayne, Archie Griffin and Ki-Jana Carter.
Best Late Round Draft Picks
Of course, there are some steals in the NFL Draft in which teams find great players during the Saturday rounds (four through seven). The most famous late round NFL Draft pick is the greatest quarterback of all-time, Tom Brady.
Brady was taken in the sixth round with the 199th overall pick. Another sixth rounder won multiple Super Bowls, but as a running back. Terrell Davis was the 196th overall pick in 1995 before winning two Super Bowls with the Broncos.
Deacon Jones may be the biggest defensive steal in NFL Draft history, one of the most feared pass rushers that went in Round 14 during the 1961 draft. There are plenty of other big names too such as Matt Birk, Donald Driver, Dwight Clark, Richard Dent and Shannon Sharpe who went late in the NFL Draft.
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