Procedure and rules
The Draft currently lasts seven rounds.
Rules for draft order
The draft order is determined by first generating the order for the first round. That order is based generally on each team's regular season record, with the exception of the two Super Bowl contestants, who are placed at the end of the draft order. Tiebreakers and specifics are as follows:
- Any expansion team automatically gets the first pick; if there are two expansion teams, a coin toss determines who picks first; the other team will pick second in the expansion draft.
- The winners of the Super Bowl are given the last selection, and the losers the penultimate selection.
- Teams that made the playoffs are then ordered by which round of the playoffs they are eliminated.
- Teams that did not make the playoffs are ordered by their regular-season record.
- Remaining ties are broken by strength of schedule. For draft order, a lower strength of schedule results in an earlier pick. If strength of schedule does not resolve a tie, division and/or conference tiebreakers may be used. If the tie still cannot be broken, a coin toss at the NFL Combine is used to determine draft order. (Note: Strength of schedule is the combined records of a team's 16 opponents, including games played against the team in question, and counting divisional opponents twice. Because of this, each team's opponents' combined wins and losses—counting a tie as a half-win, half-loss—will add up to 256, so a team whose opponents had more combined wins has a better strength of schedule.)
|Eliminated in Wild Card round||21–24|
|Eliminated in Divisional round||25–28|
|Eliminated in Conference Championships||29–30|
|Super Bowl losing team||31|
|Super Bowl champion||32|
Barring any expansion teams entering the league, the first overall draft pick goes to the team with the worst record in the previous season.
Once the order for the first round is determined, generally speaking and barring other arrangements, the selection order remains the same for subsequent rounds. However, teams with the same record within the same status group "cycle" picks in each subsequent round. For example, in the 2008 draft, Arizona, Minnesota, Houston, and Philadelphia all finished 8–8, and picked in that order in the first round. In the second round, the order became Minnesota, Houston, Philadelphia, and Arizona. That cycling continues through all seven rounds.
For the first time, the NFL Draft in 2010 was over three days. The first round of the 2010 NFL Draft was on Thursday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET, with the second and third rounds on Friday, April 23 at 6 p.m. ET, followed by Rounds 4–7 on Saturday, April 24 at 10 a.m. ET.
The first overall pick generally gets the richest contract, but other contracts rely on a number of variables. While they generally are based on the previous year's second overall pick, third overall, etc., each player's position also is taken into account. Quarterbacks, for example, usually command more money than defensive linemen, which can skew those dollar figures slightly.
Each team has its representatives attend the draft. During the draft, one team is always "on the clock." In Round 1, teams have 10 minutes to make their choice (previously 15). The decision time drops to 7 minutes (previously 10) in the second round and 5 minutes in Rounds 3–7. If a team does not make a decision within its allotted time, the team still can submit its selection at any time after its time is up, but the next team can pick before it, thus possibly stealing a player the later team may have been eyeing. This occurred in the 2003 draft, when the Minnesota Vikings, with the 7th overall pick, were late with their selection. The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted quarterback Byron Leftwich and the Carolina Panthers drafted offensive tackle Jordan Gross before the Vikings were able to submit their selection of defensive tackle Kevin Williams.
Teams may negotiate with one another both before and during the draft for the right to pick an additional player in a given round. For example, a team may include draft picks in future drafts in order to acquire a player during a trading period. Teams may also make negotiations during the draft relinquishing the right to pick in a given round for the right to have an additional pick in a later round. Thus teams may have no picks or multiple picks in a given round.
In addition to the 32 picks in each round, there are a total of 32 picks awarded at the ends of Rounds 3 through 7. These picks, known as "compensatory picks," are awarded to teams that have lost more qualifying free agents than they gained the previous year in free agency. Teams that gain and lose the same number of players but lose higher-valued players than they gain also can be awarded a pick, but only in the seventh round, after the other compensatory picks. Compensatory picks cannot be traded, and the placement of the picks is determined by a proprietary formula based on the player's salary, playing time, and postseason honors with his new team, with salary being the primary factor. So, for example, a team that lost a linebacker who signed for $2.5 million per year in free agency might get a sixth-round compensatory pick, while a team that lost a wide receiver who signed for $5 million per year might receive a fourth-round pick.
If fewer than 32 such picks are awarded, the remaining picks are awarded in the order in which teams would pick in a hypothetical eighth round of the draft (These are known as "supplemental compensatory selections").
Compensatory picks are awarded each year at the NFL annual meeting which is held at the end of March; typically, about three or four weeks before the draft.
The NFL allots each team a certain amount of money from its salary cap to sign its drafted rookies for their first season. That amount is based on an undisclosed formula that assigns a certain value to each pick in the draft; thus, having more picks, or earlier picks, will increase the allotment. In 2008 the highest allotment was about $8.22 million for the Kansas City Chiefs, who had 12 picks, including two first-rounders, while the lowest was the $1.79 million for the Cleveland Browns who had only five picks, and none in the first three rounds. The exact mechanism for the rookie salary cap is set out in the NFL's collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). (Those numbers represent the cap hits that each rookie's salary may contribute, not the total amount of money paid out.)
The drafted players are paid salaries commensurate with the position in which they were drafted. High first-round picks get paid the most, and low-round picks get paid the least. There is a de facto pay scale for drafted rookies. After the draft, non-drafted rookies may sign a contract with any team in the league. These rookie free-agents usually do not get paid as well as drafted players, nearly all of them signing for the predetermined rookie minimum and a small signing bonus.
Two other facets of the rookie salary cap impact the makeup of rosters. First, the base salaries of rookie free agents do not count towards the rookie salary cap, though certain bonuses do. Second, if a rookie is traded, his cap allotment remains with the team that originally drafted him, which make trades involving rookie players relatively rare. (This rule does not apply, however, to rookies that are waived by the teams that drafted them.)
Teams can also agree to a contract with a draft-eligible player before the draft itself starts. They can only do this if they have the first overall pick, as by agreeing to terms with a player the team has already "selected" which player they will draft. A recent example of this would be quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions in the 2009 NFL Draft. The Lions, with the first overall selection in the draft, agreed to a 6-year, $78 million deal with $41.7 million guaranteed with Stafford a day before the draft officially started. By agreeing to the deal, Stafford had already been chosen as the first overall pick in the draft.
The commissioner has the ability to forfeit picks the team is allotted in a draft. For example, in the 2007 NFL season, the New England Patriots were penalized for videotaping the Jets' defensive signals. As a result, the Patriots forfeited their first-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Similarly, the San Francisco 49ers were forced to forfeit a fifth-round pick in the same draft for tampering with a player under contract to the Chicago Bears, and were also forced to swap third-round selections with the Bears (moving the 49ers down and the Bears up six spots).
National Football League Draft
1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Since 1977, the NFL has also held a Supplemental Draft to accommodate players who did not enter the regular draft. Players generally enter the Supplementary Draft because they missed the filing deadline for the NFL Draft or because issues developed which affected their eligibility (such as athletic or disciplinary matters). The draft is scheduled to occur at some point after the regular draft and before the start of the next season. In 2009, the Supplemental Draft occurred on July 16. In 1984 the NFL held an additional draft for players who were under contract with either USFL or CFL teams.
Draft order is determined by a weighted system that is divided into three groupings. First come the teams that had six or fewer wins last season, followed by non-playoff teams that had more than six wins, followed by the 12 playoff teams. In the supplemental draft, a team is not required to use any picks. Instead, if a team wants a player in the supplemental draft, they submit a "bid" to the Commissioner with the round they would pick that player. If no other team places a bid on that player at an earlier spot, the team is awarded the player and has to give up an equivalent pick in the following year's draft. (For example, FS Paul Oliver was taken by the San Diego Chargers in the fourth round of the Supplemental Draft in 2007; thus, in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Chargers forfeited a fourth-round pick.)
The 1985 Supplemental Draft was particularly controversial. Bernie Kosar of the University of Miami earned his academic degree a year early but did not enter the regular draft that year. Rather than finish his eligibility at Miami, he entered into talks with his favorite team, the Cleveland Browns. They advised Kosar to delay his professional eligibility until after the regular draft. They then traded for the right to choose first in the Supplemental Draft. This angered many teams, notably the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants, who had expressed interest in choosing him in that season's regular draft. Following that season, the NFL instituted the current semi-random supplemental draft order.
Even with that rule change, top players continued to not declare for the NFL until after the regular draft for various reasons. In some cases, it was because they did not want to play for the team that would have drafted them in the regular draft. For example, Brian Bosworth did not declare because he did not want to play for the Indianapolis Colts or the Buffalo Bills, the teams who drafted second and third that year. The Colts had offered him a 4 year, $2.2 million deal before the draft. The Seattle Seahawks won the right to draft first in the supplemental draft, and later signed him to a 10 year, $11 million contract. At the time that was the largest rookie contract in NFL history.
As of the 1990 season, only players who had graduated or exhausted their college eligibility were made available for the supplemental draft. Since 1993, only players who had planned to attend college but for various reasons could not have been included in the supplemental draft.
List of NFL Supplemental Draft Picks
As of 2010, 40 players have been taken in the Supplemental Draft
|Year Drafted||Player||Position||Round||NFL Team||College||Reason For Entering Supplemental Draft|
|1977||Al Hunter||RB||4th||Seattle Seahawks||Notre Dame|
|1978||Johnnie Dirden||WR||10th||Houston Oilers||Sam Houston State|
|1978||Rod Connors||RB||12th||San Francisco 49ers||USC|
|1979||Rod Stewart||RB||6th||Buffalo Bills||Kentucky|
|1980||Matthew Teague||DE||7th||Atlanta Falcons||Prairie View A&M|
|1980||Billy Mullins||WR||9th||San Diego Chargers||USC|
|1981||Dave Wilson||QB||1st||New Orleans Saints||Illinois|
|1981||Chy Davidson||WR||11th||New England Patriots||Rhode Island|
|1982||Kevin Robinson||DB||9th||Detroit Lions||North Carolina A&T|
|1985||Bernie Kosar||QB||1st||Cleveland Browns||Miami (FL)||did not declare for the NFL until after the regular draft had been held.|
|1985||Roosevelt Snipes||RB||8th||San Francisco 49ers||Florida State|
|1986||Charles Crawford||RB||7th||Philadelphia Eagles||Oklahoma State|
|1987||Brian Bosworth||LB||1st||Seattle Seahawks||Oklahoma||did not declare for the NFL until after the regular draft had been held.|
|1987||Dan Sileo||DT||3rd||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Miami (FL)|
|1987||Cris Carter||WR||4th||Philadelphia Eagles||Ohio State|
|1988||Ryan Bethea||WR||5th||Minnesota Vikings||South Carolina|
|1989||Steve Walsh||QB||1st||Dallas Cowboys||Miami (FL)||did not declare for the NFL until after the regular draft had been held.|
|1989||Timm Rosenbach||QB||1st||Phoenix Cardinals||Washington State||did not declare for the NFL until after the regular draft had been held. As an underclassman, he was allowed to enter the draft because his school had changed coaches.|
|1989||Bobby Humphrey||RB||1st||Denver Broncos||Alabama|
|1989||Brett Young||DB||8th||Buffalo Bills||Oregon|
|1989||Mike Lowman||RB||12th||Dallas Cowboys||Coffeyville Community College|
|1990||Rob Moore||WR||1st||New York Jets||Syracuse||graduated from college with a year of eligibility remaining, and did not declare in time for regular draft. |
|1990||Willie Williams||TE||9th||Phoenix Cardinals||LSU|
|1992||Dave Brown||QB||1st||New York Giants||Duke||graduated from college with a year of eligibility remaining, and did not declare for the NFL until after the regular draft had been held.|
|1992||Darren Mickell||DE||2nd||Kansas City Chiefs||Florida||suspended from team for senior season for undisclosed violations of team rules.|
|1994||Tito Wooten||DB||4th||New York Giants||Louisiana-Monroe|
|1994||John Davis||TE||5th||Dallas Cowboys||Emporia State|
|1995||Darren Benson||DT||3rd||Dallas Cowboys||Trinity Valley Community College|
|1998||Mike Wahle||OT||2nd||Green Bay Packers||Navy||suspended for senior season after testing positive for steroids.|
|1998||Jamal Williams||DT||2nd||San Diego Chargers||Oklahoma State||declared academically ineligible.|
|1999||J'Juan Cherry||DB||4th||New England Patriots||Arizona State||dismissed from the team.|
|2002||Milford Brown||OL||6th||Houston Texans||Florida State||out of NCAA eligibility.|
|2003||Tony Hollings||RB||2nd||Houston Texans||Georgia Tech||declared academically ineligible.|
|2005||Manuel Wright||DT||5th||Miami Dolphins||USC||declared academically ineligible.|
|2006||Ahmad Brooks||LB||3rd||Cincinnati Bengals||Virginia||dismissed from the team.|
|2007||Paul Oliver||S||4th||San Diego Chargers||Georgia||declared academically ineligible.|
|2007||Jared Gaither||OT||5th||Baltimore Ravens||Maryland||declared academically ineligible.|
|2009||Jeremy Jarmon||DE||3rd||Washington Redskins||Kentucky||suspended for senior season after testing positive for a banned supplement.|
|2010||Harvey Unga||RB||7th||Chicago Bears||BYU||voluntarily left school after violating its honor code.|
|2010||Josh Brent||NT||7th||Dallas Cowboys||Illinois||declared academically ineligible.|
Events leading up to the Draft
NFL Draft Advisory Board decisions
College football players who are considering entering the NFL Draft but who still have eligibility to play college football can request an expert opinion from the NFL-created Draft Advisory Board. The Board, composed of scouting experts and team executives, makes a prediction as to the likely round in which a player would be drafted. This information, which has proved to be fairly accurate, can help college players determine whether to enter the draft or to continue playing and improving at the college level. There are also many famous reporting scouts, such as Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay.
NFL Scouting Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is a six-day assessment of skills occurring every year in late February or early March in Indianapolis, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium. College football players perform physical and mental tests in front of NFL coaches, general managers, and scouts. With increasing interest in the NFL Draft, the scouting combine has grown in scope and significance, allowing personnel directors to evaluate upcoming prospects in a standardized setting. Its origins have evolved from the National, BLESTO and Quadra Scouting services in 1977, to the media frenzy it has become today.
- 40 yard dash
- Bench press
- Vertical jump
- Broad jump
- 20-yard shuttle
- Three-cone drill
- 60-yard shuttle
- Position-specific drills
- Physical measurements
- Injury evaluation
- Drug screen
- The Cybex test
- The Wonderlic Test
Athletes attend by invitation only. Implications of one's performance during the Combine can affect perception, draft status, salary and ultimately his career. The draft has popularized the term "Workout Warrior" (sometimes known as a "Workout Wonder"), describing an athlete who, based on superior measurables such as size, speed and strength, has increased his "draft stock" despite having a possibly average or subpar college career.
Each university has a pro day, during which the NCAA allows NFL scouts to visit the school and watch players participate in NFL Combine events together.
The last overall player selected in the NFL Draft is traditionally given the title "Mr. Irrelevant". This practice was started in 1976 by former NFL player Paul Salata, who founded "Irrelevant Week" in Newport Beach, California. During the summer after the NFL draft, the new Mr. Irrelevant and his family are invited to Newport Beach for a week of activities.
The draft has taken place since 1936 and has had to move into larger venues as the event has gained in popularity, drawing fans from across the world. The 2006 draft was held at Radio City Music Hall, the first time this venue has hosted the gala, and it has been held there ever since. The Theater at Madison Square Garden had hosted the event for a ten-year period, but the NFL moved it to the Javits Convention Center in 2005 following a dispute with the Cablevision-owned arena, who were opposing the West Side Stadium, which would have served as home of the New York Jets and the centerpiece of the New York City bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics, because the new stadium would compete with the Garden for concerts and other events.
Tickets to the NFL Draft are free and made available to fans on a first-come first-served basis. The tickets are distributed at the box office the morning of the draft, one ticket per person. Long waits in line can be expected for fans hoping to get a live glimpse of their team's high-profile picks. Fans must arrive early in order to attend the draft. 2010 was the first year the NFL draft was moved to primetime. Tickets for the first two days, Thursday and Friday were available to fans who waited in long lines. Tickets for day three, Saturday, are generally easy to come by, just by going to Radio City Music Hall in the morning. Those fans who have been grandfathered into the NFL Drafts' Day 2 Diehard program are mailed tickets each year for the NFL draft. This program was discontinued in 2008.
- Draft bust
- List of NFL first overall draft choices
- List of professional football drafts
- List of NFL Draft broadcasters
- NFL draft's first round moves to Thursday night for 2010
- ESPN – Chiefs get largest rookie pool to pay draft picks – NFL
- ["http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-1316132.html" "Colts Insist: Not Trade For Rights to No. 1 Pick"]. "http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-1316132.html". Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- "Bosworth signs". http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=kewlAAAAIBAJ&sjid=JfwFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6224,4330985. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- "Bears pick Unga; Price-Brent to Dallas". http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=5383225. Retrieved 2010-07-15.
- Isaac Cheifetz, Hiring Secrets of the NFL: How Your Company Can Select Talent Like a Champion (2007), 68, available at Google Books
- Rich Eisen, Total Access: A Journey to the Center of the NFL Universe (2007), 128, available at Google Books
- David Schoenfield, Page 2: The 100 worst draft picks ever, ESPN.com, April 26, 2006 (see #45, Mike Mamula, a "workout wonder")
- "NFL Draft History". http://www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- Hack, Damon (2005-02-11). "N.F.L. Is Seeking New Home for Draft". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/11/sports/football/11draft.html. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
- "NFL Draft Basics: Fan Tickets". Archived from the original on 2008-01-03. http://web.archive.org/web/20080103084157/http://www.draftnotebook.com/draft_basics.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-04.
- Official NFL Draft Site
- Official NFL Draft History (1936–present)
- NFL Draft Dog Scouting Service
- Sideline Scouting (Features Player Profiles, Mock Draft and Top 100)
- Mock Draft Online