The National Football League players Draft is nothing if not complicated, and the rules change constantly as the League endeavors to ensure fairness. Here we will consider the current rules and explain them in a way that we hope the novice will understand.
The annual NFL Draft gives teams the chance of obtaining talented players for their clubs, and the chance that a drafted player will boost a team’s chances of victory ensures that there is serious competition. The rivalry between clubs to attract star players has led to the NFL making changes to the Draft rules on many occasions in an attempt to see that fairness prevails.
32 Teams Currently
Currently there are 32 teams and each team has one pick in each of the present seven rounds (in the past, there have been as many as 30 rounds!). Each round begins with the team that had the worst record in the previous season, then the second worst team, and so on until the last pick is by the team that won the Super Bowl.
The teams that failed to qualify for the play-offs are given positions 1 – 20. Then the four teams eliminated in the wild card round are given positions 21 – 24 in reverse order of their final season records. The four teams eliminated in the divisional round get 25 – 28, the two teams that lost in the conference championships get 29 and 30, the loser of the Super Bowl has position 31, and the Super Bowl Champions get 32. This carries on for each of the seven rounds.
The League may also create as many as 32 additional picks for what are called “compensatory free agents” which allows clubs which have lost free agents to attempt to fill the gap. These picks take place at the end of the third round through the seventh.
The Draft Is Held Over Three Days
Every year, the National Football League Draft runs for three days in the spring on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The first round is held on the Thursday, and teams have 10 minutes to make their pick. The second and third rounds are held on Friday, and only seven minutes are allowed for the pick, while the fourth through seventh rounds are held on the Saturday with five minutes for the 3rd to 6th pick and only four for the 7th.
Every team has a table at the venue, and representatives stay in constant contact with the team’s executives. When a player is chosen, the name is written on a card given to a runner and the selection is then official. The player’s name is entered into a database which notifies all of the teams of the pick.
The pick can be kept by the team or can be traded with other teams. Draft picks can be swapped, and so can other NFL players to whom a team has the rights.
Players are only eligible for the draft if they have been out of high school for three years and are in the year after the end of their college eligibility.
Before the draft takes place, NFL Player Personnel staff members have to confirm that all draft prospects are eligible. In the case of the 2015 draft, that incurred researching some 3,800 players in 2014!
There is an awful lot more work that goes on behind the scenes of the NFL draft, but the foregoing covers all of the basics.