NFL Draft

National Football League Draft

The NFL draft is also known as the Player Selection Meeting is an event held once every year allowing all NFL teams a chance to sign successful college football players. This method of recruitment is the most common way of recruiting players. The position a team finished in the last season determines a draft position in reverse order. The NFL team that was last in the season standings gets first to pick. This rule is the part where things get interesting as a team can either select a player, trade the position to other teams in return for different picks in the draft, a player(s), or any possible combinations of the same. An NFL draft process is said to be complete once all teams have traded a draft position or selected a player. This process has changed since 1936, and the current process has seven rounds. The beauty of this draft is that the team that performed poorly signs the top player and balances competition between teams. Today, the popularity of the draft is such a level that it’s even aired live on mainstream media. Taking a stroll down memory lane, this was usually not the norm. In the 1930s players were drafted into professional football via print media, rudimentary evidence, and hearsay. The process progressed in the 1940s when the concept of scouts was adopted. The early drafts order salary negotiations did not follow any set rules and players wanted to sign with the highest paying team. Kenny Washington was the first African-American player to play in the NFL through the draft pick process. The NFL constitution adopted the existing rules and in 1942, “Bullet Bill” Dudley became the first player to picked first overall.

NFL Draft

Scouting Era Begins (1946-1959)

Dan Reeves of the Los Angeles Rams signed Eddie Kotal as the first signed player scout. There existed two football leagues, the NFL and AAFC and it was complicating the draft process. The competing leagues resulted in the creation of a bonus pick. Draft picks as at that time had an option of signing with either NFL or AAFC. The 1949 NFL draft thirteenth round saw the first African-American, George Taliaferro decide to pass on a chance to play for NFL and sign with an AAFC team. The nineteenth round pick, Wall Triplett became the first African-American to be selected in an NFL draft and proceed to sign for a professional NFL team. From the introductory statement, it’s clear that the NFL draft process is not the only way a player gets signed to a professional NFL team. Before the start of the 1949 NFL draft season, Paul “Tank” Younger became the first free agent to be signed from a historically black college. Coach Grambling of the LA Rams made it clear Paul that his performance would directly affect how black colleges’ players would get drafted in the league.

Technology (1960-1979)

The 1960 National Football League draft held in Philadelphia was very competitive affair because of the imminent arrival of the American Football League (AFL). The draft saw half of the players drafted in the first round and other many players sign with the new AFL. “Mr. Irrelevant” was a term coined in 1976 by Paul Salata referring to players selected last in the draft.

Current Format

All players drafted to the NFL have played college football though the rules don’t make this a mandatory NFL rule. Most of these colleges are in the USA and occasionally Canadian Universities. Rules also permit players who have since left high school up to 3 years to qualify for the NFL draft. Sometimes it happens that players who play in Canadian football League, German Football League, and Arena Football League are also included in the NFL draft if they possess the required abilities. Players who show exceptional skill and abilities even from other sports can get drafted to the NFL. Since the rules state that, a player must have stayed for three years after leaving high school, they do not explicitly specify what a player should do within that tenure. A player who was completed red-shirt sophomore year within the three years improves a player’s eligibility.

Rules for determining draft order

A team reaching the playoff and its win-loss record in the previous season determine the selection order of the draft. A reverse order applies to teams that didn’t make the playoffs based on their win-loss record. The team with the lowest wins gets the first pick. It’s possible that teams achieve identical records after the season is over. Therefore, the below rules apply in the order stated to break the tie.

  1. The strength of the schedule. It refers to the all sixteen opponents combined win and loss in the previous season. The team’s opponents with fewer wins also known as a lower strength of schedule get the earlier draft position in the first round.
  2. The teams record against opponents from the same division in common games.

III. The teams record against opponents from the same conference in common games.

  1. The final rule that happens at the pre-draft NFL Combine is a coin flip(s).

For teams that were in the playoff in the previous seasons, the determination of the draft order is in the order they were eliminated. Early eliminated teams get the first pick, and in case of a tiebreaker, the above rules apply in that order. That means the super bowl champion gets the last pick.

These above rules apply in each subsequent round. There is an exception to this flow for teams with ties. Among the teams with ties, the order alternates in each round to ensure fairness, e.g., if three teams have a tie, the team that get’s priority in the first round comes last in the second round and alternate till the rounds are over like it happened in 2014. The exception to the above rule occurs when ‘expansion teams’ are included. Expansion teams qualify for the first selection. If they are two, a coin toss decides, but if they are three or more, a drawing of lots is the deciding factor. The loser of the coin toss and the winner of the drawing of lots are awarded the first selection. Quarterback draft picks are paid higher salaries compared to other field positions and the player who is the first pick gets the richest contract while other rounds salary figures are determined by previous year picks. The 2010 draft was the longest as it happened over a period of three days.


Timing is an exciting, fun activity in the National Football League draft process. Each team has representatives in the draft and time taken to make a decision is a key determiner. In round one, a team has ten minutes to choose who to sign, round two a team has 7 minutes, and in round three a team is granted five minutes. What this means is that if your teams allocated time expires before making a decision, the next team that was to pick may select a player that was being considered by the representatives of the earlier team. The team that delayed can still submit their pick but has to be available on the list assuming the player has not been ‘stolen’ already. Some of the reason the above scenario can happen is a delay in negotiating a trade. 2003 and 2011 saw Minnesota Vikings, and Baltimore Ravens fail to submit their selections respectively within their allocated time.

Pick Trades

The NFL rules permit teams to negotiate for the right to select an additional player in a specific round before and during the draft. For example, a team interested in a particular player in a trading period may offer draft picks in future drafts. It’s also possible for teams to forego a right to pick in a specific round so that they have an additional pick in a later round. It renders a team to have no pick in a specific round or multiple picks in particular rounds.

Compensatory Picks

32 compensatory picks qualify to be selected by teams that gained or lost players in free agency in addition to the 32 selections for each of the seven rounds. ‘Unrestricted free agents’ known as compensatory free agents (CFA) are defined thanks to a proprietary formula. A team that has lost CFAs who were better than what they had signed the previous year have picks between third and seventh round. If the value of CFAs lost is higher than that gained a team is awarded picks in the seventh round. Note that compensatory picks are not in tandem with the draft process but three or four weeks before the draft. Compensatory pick process is done every year at the NFL’s annual meeting. Compensatory picks of the 2017 National Football League draft are now tradable. A proprietary formula determines the placement pick based on factors such as postseason honors, a player’s salary and playing time. Supplementary compensatory selections now are awarded in the eighth round after the compensatory picks. In 2016 there were 33 compensatory picks, one more than the standard 32 compensatory picks.

Team policies

The teams themselves determine the team policies. One can find different selection methodologies between teams. Participating representatives may or may not include coaches, owners, and general managers. Team politics on who in the team has the final say are on full display at this stage. Art Rooney Junior had ‘the final say’ even over his father over picks in 1983 NFL draft for Pittsburgh Steelers as described by the team coach. The same year, Tony Eason was signed as a quarterback by the New England Patriots in the first round by team owner a decision which the team coach disagreed. The then patriot’s coach even claims that coaching staff was prohibited from reading scouting reports.

NFL Draft Advisory Board Decisions

The board is composed of team executives and scouting experts. The mandate of this Board is to make predictions of which round a player can be drafted. The college football players who wish to enter NFL but are still eligible to play have the opportunity to seek an expert opinion from this Board. The view provided by this Board is usually reasonably accurate, and college players can be able to see their rankings. If the classification feedback shows a college player can qualify for the draft, the player concerned can either continue playing in college or enter the draft. The Board can also serve as an opportunity to get close to the top scouting experts who can give a player exposure if his talents are immense.

The NFL draft process has been fine-tuned over the years, making it the most popular NFL recruiting platform. A player who wishes to attain his dream of playing in the NFL should put in the effort and get acquitted with the draft process. The 2018 NFL draft shall take place at the AT&T stadium from April 26 to April 28 and shall be the 83rd annual meeting. Now is a fascinating period for the football fans, scouts and analysts to come up with their mock drafts and predictions in preparation for the big day.

It can’t get more fun than what the NFL offers. It’s the only sport in the world (relatively speaking) thanks to its structure, provides every team a chance to win the coveted Super Bowl. I believe other global sports can borrow a leaf from the NFL way of doing things, England football league, yes I mean you England. Every season there are diverse stories that get fans attached. The 2017/18 that just ended most gripping tale was the underdog tag given to a particular team in Philly a topic we won’t dwell into today. Nevertheless, all these stories of our beloved NFL stars start with the draft. Thanks to growth in digital media, we are witnessing selection picks that even before being drafted are so popular and polarizing; If I go off topic, a good example being the 2017 NBA draft 2nd draft pick. Staying on topic, below is a write up about the National Football League draft.

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