A draft is a process used to allocate certain players to sports teams. In a draft, teams take turns selecting from a pool of eligible players. When a team selects a player, the team receives exclusive rights to sign that player to a contract, and no other team in the league may sign the player.

The best-known type of draft is the entry draft, which is used to allocate players who have recently become eligible to play in a league. Depending on the sport, the players may come from college, high school or junior teams or teams in other countries.

An entry draft prevents expensive bidding wars for young talent and ensures that no one team can sign contracts with all of the best young players and make the league uncompetitive. To encourage parity, teams that do poorly in the previous season usually get to choose first in the postseason draft.

Other types of drafts include the expansion draft, in which a new team selects players from other teams in the league; and the dispersal draft, in which a league's surviving teams select players from the roster of a newly defunct franchise.

Drafts are usually permitted under anti-trust or restraint of trade laws because they are included in collective bargaining agreements between leagues and labor unions representing players. These agreements generally stipulate that after a certain number of seasons, a player whose contract has expired becomes a free agent and can sign with any team. They also require minimum and sometimes maximum salaries for newly drafted players.

National Football League President Joseph Carr instituted a draft in 1935 as a way to restrain teams' payrolls and reduce the dominance of the league's perennial contenders.[1] It was adopted by the precursor of the National Basketball Association in 1947; by the National Hockey League in 1963; and by Major League Baseball in 1965, although draft systems had been used in baseball since the 19th century.[2]

Drafts are uncommon in association football, specially in Major League Soccer, where most professional clubs obtain young players through transfers from smaller clubs or by developing youth players through their own academies. The youth system is operated directly by the teams themselves, who develop their players from childhood.

North America Edit

NFL DraftEdit

Draft order in the NFL is determined in a reverse-record order (the previous season's worst team picking first, the Super Bowl winner picking last). There are 7 rounds of the draft, so each team can have 7 selections, plus whatever compensatory selections a team receives as a result of free agency (up to 32 compensatory selections are given each year). Teams are allowed to trade draft picks (but not compensatory selections) among each other in exchange for other draft picks or in exchange for players.

Because the NFL requires that players be three years removed from high school, players are chosen almost exclusively from National Collegiate Athletic Association college football programs.

The NFL Draft has become one of the key events on the American football calendar. It is held in April at New York's Radio City Music Hall and aired live on television.

CFL DraftEdit

The Canadian Football League holds its annual player draft before the start of the season, either in the last days of April or the start of May. It was formerly held as part of the annual league meetings in Hamilton, but is now typically held by conference call. Since 1997, the draft has consisted of six rounds, with teams drafting in inverse order of their records in the previous season. As with the NFL Draft, trading of picks is very common, meaning that a team will not necessarily have six picks in a given draft.

The draft is restricted to "non-imports"—essentially, players who were raised in Canada (see the relevant section of the main CFL article). Eligible players can be drafted both from CIS football programs in Canada and U.S. college football programs (with the latter category containing one Canadian school, Simon Fraser).

Disaster draftEdit

Major professional sports leagues (including the KHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL) have special contingency plans for rebuilding a team should an accident or other disaster kill or disable many players.

Other terminologyEdit

A draft bust occurs when a highly touted or highly selected draftee does not meet expectations. This can be for a variety of reasons, but the most often noted are injury or inability to perform at a professional level. A player is also regarded as a larger bust if more successful players are drafted after him or her. An example of a draft bust occurred with the San Diego Chargers in the 1998 NFL Draft. The Chargers selected promising quarterback Ryan Leaf with the second pick. However, Leaf only managed to play two years with the Chargers and started only 18 games (and winning only 4 games) for them before being released.[3][4][5] Another example is LaRue Martin, drafted 1st overall in the 1972 NBA Draft ahead of Bob McAdoo and Julius Erving. McAdoo & Erving went on to be elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and are both usually mentioned as all-time greats, whereas Martin only played 4 NBA seasons for a career average of just over 5 points per game before retiring as arguably the biggest NBA draft bust ever. Other NBA draft busts are Kwame Brown (2001) , Darko Miličić (2003).

Conversely, a lowly-drafted player going on to have a stellar career is a draft steal. Joe Montana, listed by Sports Illustrated as the third-best player in history was drafted 82nd overall in 1979, the fourth quarterback to be chosen. Mike Piazza, drafted dead last (and only as a favor from Tommy Lasorda) and became one of the best catchers of the 1990s and is a probable future Hall of Famer. Tom Brady, who has won three Super Bowls and appeared in two others, was selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, behind six quarterbacks, none of whom matched Brady's success (this is the subject of a 2011 ESPN documentary, The Brady 6). In the NBA, Manu Ginóbili, a key contributor to three San Antonio Spurs championships in the 2000s and centerpiece of Argentina's Olympic gold medal team in 2004, was the next-to-last pick in the 1999 draft. In the NHL, Luc Robitaille, drafted 171st in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, would eventually retire as the highest-scoring left winger in NHL history.

See alsoEdit


  1. Michael MacCambridge, America's Game. New York: Random House, 2004. ISBN 0-375-50454-0.
  2. Paul Dickson, Dickson Baseball Dictionary(Third ed.) s.v. Draft. Norton: 2009. ISBN 978-0-393-06681-4.
  3. ESPN 25 Biggest Sports Flops ESPN, 2004. Retrieved on 2006-07-29.
  4. Ventre, Michael Beware of next Ryan Leaf in draft MSNBC April 23, 2005. Retrieved on 2006-07-29.
  5. 02:47 (2010-09-01). "NFL Videos: Top 10 QB draft busts". Retrieved 2010-09-17.

External linksEdit

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