National Football League draft
The National Football League draft, also called the player selection meeting, is an annual event in which the National Football League (NFL) teams select eligible college football players. It serves as the league's most common source of player recruitment. The basic design of the draft is that each team is given a position in the drafting order in reverse order relative to its record in the previous year, which means that the last place team is positioned first. From this position, the team can either select a player or trade their position to another team for other draft positions, a player or players, or any combination thereof. After each team has utilized its position in the drafting order, whether by trading it or selecting a player, a round would be complete. Certain aspects of the draft, including team positioning and the number of rounds in the draft, have seen revisions since its first creation in 1936, but the fundamental methodology has remained the same. Currently the draft consists of seven rounds. The original rationale in creating the draft was to increase the competitive parity between the teams as the worst team would, ideally, have chosen the best player available.
In the early years of the draft, players were chosen based on hearsay, print media, or other rudimentary evidence of a player's ability. In the 1940s, some franchises began employing full-time scouts. The ensuing success of their corresponding teams eventually forced the other franchises to also hire scouts.
Colloquially, the name of the draft each year takes on the form of the NFL season in which players picked could begin playing. For example, the 2010 NFL draft was for the 2010 NFL season. However, the NFL-defined name of the process has changed since its inception.
The location of the draft has continually changed over the years to accommodate more fans, as the event has gained popularity. The draft's popularity now garners prime-time television coverage.
In recent years the NFL draft has occurred in late April or early May.
- Precursor and rationale 1.1
- The first draft (1936) 1.2
- Early drafts (1937–1946) 1.3
- Scouting era begins (1946–1959) 1.4
- Technology (1960–1979) 1.5
- ESPN and the digital age (1980–2013) 1.6
Contemporary procedure and rules 2
Rules for determining draft order 2.1
- Timing 2.1.1
- Pick trades 2.2
- Compensatory picks 2.3
- Salaries 2.4
- Forfeiture 2.5
- Team policies 2.6
- Rules for determining draft order 2.1
Events leading up to the draft 3
- NFL Draft Advisory Board decisions 3.1
- NFL Scouting Combine 3.2
- Pro Day 3.3
- Tickets 4
Leagues that Merged with the NFL 5.1
- All-American Football Conference draft 5.1.1
- American Football League draft 5.1.2
- Leagues that Merged with the NFL 5.1
Supplemental draft 6
- List of NFL supplemental draft picks 6.1
- See also 7
- References 8
- Sources 9
- Further reading 10
- External links 11
Precursor and rationale
In late 1934, Joe F. Carr, disallowed the Giants the ability to employ the players. At a league meeting in December 1934, the NFL introduced a waiver rule to prevent such transactions. Any player released by a team during the season would be able to be claimed by other teams. The selection order to claim the player would be in inverse order to the teams' standings at the time.
Throughout this time, Bert Bell, co-owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, felt his team's lack of competitiveness on the field made it difficult for the Eagles to sell tickets and to be profitable. Compounding the Eagles' problems were players signed with teams that offered the most money, or if the money being equal, players chose to sign with the most prestigious teams at the time, who had established a winning tradition. As a result, the NFL was dominated by the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Giants, and Redskins. Bell's inability to sign a desired prospect, Stan Kostka, in 1935, eventually led Bell to believe the only way to for the NFL to have enduring success was for all teams to have an equal opportunity to sign eligible players. At a league meeting on May 18, 1935, Bell proposed a draft be instituted to enhance the competitive parity on the field in order to ensure the financial viability of all franchises. His proposal was adopted unanimously that day, although the first draft would not occur until the next off-season.
The rules for the selection of the players in the first draft were, first, that a list of college seniors would be assembled by each franchise and submitted into a pool. From this pool, each franchise would select, in inverse order to their team's record in the previous year, a player. With this selection, the franchise had the unilateral right to negotiate a contract with that player, or the ability to trade that player to another team for a player, or players. If, for any reason, the franchise was unsuccessful in negotiating a contract with the player and was unable to trade the player, the president of the NFL could attempt to arbitrate a settlement between the player and the franchise. If the president was unable to settle the dispute, then the player would be placed in the reserve list of the franchise and would be unavailable to play for any team in the NFL that year. In the 1935 NFL season, the Eagles finished in last place at 2–9, thus securing themselves the first pick in the draft.
The first draft (1936)
- Official website
- N.F.L. Draft Travels Far for a Two-Night Stay
- What Does Fitzpatrick's Wonderlic Mean?
- The Year Greasy Neale was Fired
- 1936–37 NFL Draft by Jim Campbell
- Draft Productivity: A Study by Gary Keller
- The Scout Is A Lonely Hunter by George Plimpton
- Is the supplemental draft important?
- Oh, for another '58 Packer draft
- Yazoo Smith v. NFL
- Brown, Paul; with Clary, Jack (1979). PB, the Paul Brown Story. New York: Atheneum.
- Carroll, John M. (1999). Red Grange and the Rise of Modern Football. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-02384-6
- Gottehrer, Barry (1963), The Giants of New York. New York:G.P. Putnam's Sons
- Hession, Joseph (1987). The Rams: Five Decades of Football. San Francisco: Foghorn Press.
- Knight, Jonathan (2006). "Bernie Comes Home" in Sundays in the Pound: The Heroics and Heartbreak of the 1985–89 Cleveland Browns. Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press ISBN 978-0-87338-866-5 pp. 15–25.
- Maule, Tex (1964). The Game; The Official Picture History of the National Football League. New York: Random House
- Staudohar, Paul D. (1986). The Sports Industry and Collective Bargaining. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press. ISBN 0-87546-117-4
- Yost, Mark (2006). Tailgating, Sacks and Salary Caps. Chicago: Kaplan Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4195-2600-8
- . (password protected except at participating U.S. library) by United States House Committee on the Judiciary III, Subcommittee on Antitrust (1957).Organized Professional Team Sports: Part 3
- Baldwin, Douglas Owen (2000). Football—The NFL in Sports in North America: A Documentary History, Volume 8, Sports in the Depression, 1930–1940. Gulf Breeze, FL: Academic International Press. ISBN 0-87569-224-9 pp. 191–207.
- Coenen, Craig R. (2005). From Sandlots to the Super Bowl: The National Football League, 1920–1967. Knoxville, TN: The University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 1-57233-447-9
- Davis, Jeff (2005). Papa Bear, The Life and Legacy of George Halas. New York: McGraw-Hill ISBN 0-07-146054-3
- DeVito, Carlo (2006). Wellington: the Maras, the Giants, and the City of New York. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 978-1-57243-872-9
- Didinger, Ray; with Lyons, Robert S. (2005). The Eagles Encyclopedia. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 1-59213-449-1
- Levy, Alan H. (2003). Tackling Jim Crow, Racial Segregation in Professional Football. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., Inc. ISBN 0-7864-1597-5
- Lyons, Robert S. (2010). On Any Given Sunday, A Life of Bert Bell. Philadelphia:Temple University Press. ISBN 978-1-59213-731-2
- MacCambridge, Michael (2004, 2005), America's Game. New York:Anchor Books ISBN 978-0-307-48143-6
- Maule, Tex (1964). The Game; The Official Picture History of the National Football League. New York: Random House
- Pervin, Lawrence A. (2009). Football's New York Giants. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-4268-3
- Ruck, Rob; with Paterson, Maggie Jones and Weber, Michael P. (2010) Rooney:a Sporting Life. Lincoln:University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-2283-0
- Peterson, Robert W. (1997). Pigskin New York:Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507607-9
- Williams, Pete (2006). The Draft: a year inside the NFL's search for talent. New York:St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35438-1
- Willis, Chris (2010). The Man Who Built the National Football League: Joe F. Carr. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8108-7669-9
- Coenen, 2005, pp. 92–93.
- "Pros Make Five Changes in Rules To Improve Game".
- Lyons, 2010, p. 54.
- MacCambridge, 2005, p. 43.
- The three most prestigious teams at the time were the Bears, Giants, and the Packers. Maule, 1964, p. 15.
- The players had an auxiliary financial incentive to play with the best teams because 60% of the profit for the NFL championship game went to the players on the winning team and 40% went to the players on the losing team. Dunscomb, George (December 12, 1936). "$6,000 for a Touchdown: George Halas of the Chicago Bears Tells of Costs of Running a Pro Team".
- Lyons, 2010, p. 56.
- Ruck; Patterson and Weber, 2010, p. 108.
- Lyons writes Bell tried to sign Kostka in 1933.Lyons, 2010, p. 56.
- Willis, 2010, p. 338.
- Peterson, 1997, p. 119.
- Williams, 2006, pp. 41–42.
- Didinger writes the proposal was accepted the next day, on May 19, 1935. Didinger; Lyons, 2005, p. 256.
- Lyons, 2010, p. 57–58.
- Willis, 2010, p. 341–343.
- DeVito, 2006, p. 84.
- Baldwin, 2000, p. 192.
- Barnett, Bob. "1936: The First Draft" (PDF). Retrieved October 4, 2011.
- Lyons, 2010, pp. 58–59
- Willis, 2010, p. 342.
- "Pro Rules on Signing Up of College Players". Milwaukee Sentinel. February 10, 1936. p. 10. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
- MacCambridge, 2005, p. 44.
- Didinger; Lyons, 2005, p. 256.
- Willis, 2010, p. 337.
- Lyons, 2010, p. 60.
- Willis, 2010, p. 350.
- Davis, 2005, p. 131.
- Lyons and Willis write the draft was originally set up to have only five rounds, but it was changed to nine rounds during the selection meeting. Lyons, 2010, p. 350.
- "Chicago Bears Granted Option on Jay Berwanger". The Milwaukee Journal implies the Eagles never attempted to negotiate with Berwanger.
- Lyons writes Bell offer of $150 per game was declined by Berwanger. Lyons, 2010, p. 60.
- Willis, 2010, p. 351.
- Davis writes Berwanger requested a two-year no cut contract for $12,500 per year which George Halas declined to meet. Davis, 2005, pp. 131–132.
- Willis writes four players chosen in the draft eventually changed their minds and entered into the NFL in 1937. Willis, 2010, p. 351.
- Lyons, 2010, p. 59.
- Devito, 2006, p. 85.
- Coenen, 2005, pp. 96–97.
- Coenen, 2005, p. 90.
- "The players coming out of college were not happy, as salaries dropped by almost half." Devito, 2006, pp. 84.
- Peterson, 1997, pp. 119–120.
- Ruck; Patterson and Weber, 2010, pp. 138–140.
- Ruck; Patterson and Weber, 2010, pp. 143, 148.
- Devito, 2006, pp. 95–96.
- Pervin writes that "Some NFL owners, including Tim Mara, were encouraged to draft Washington but none chose to break the racial barrier." Pervin, 2009, p. 16.
- "Organized Professional Team Sports, Part 3 (password protected except at participating U.S. Library)", Hearings Before the Antitrust Subcommittee (Subcommittee No. 5) of the Committee on the Judiciary (PDF), Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1957, pp. 2580a–2580at, retrieved October 9, 2011
- "1936: All Time #1". Retrieved October 10, 2011.
- Dougherty, Pete (October 14, 2011). "Rams ushered in modern era of scouting with help from former Packers player, coach Eddie Kotal".
- MacCambridge, 2005, pp. 55–57.
- MacCambridge, 2005, p. 41.
- "African-Americans in Pro Football: Pioneers, Milestones and Firsts". Retrieved October 10, 2011.
- Levy incorrectly writes Younger was drafted by the Rams. Levy 2003, p. 102.
- Williams, 2006, p. 46.
- Jacobs, Melissa (April 30, 2011). "Irrelevant can be a good thing". Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- Williams, 2006, pp. 52–53.
- , Saturday, March 27, 2010.The New York TimesSandomir, Richard. "Chet Simmons, a Founding Force of ESPN, Dies at 81,"
- Sandomir, Richard (April 22, 1991). "TV SPORTS; ESPN Show Was a Draftnik's Nirvana". New York Times. Retrieved October 28, 2011.
- "Complete order of first round of 2011 NFL Draft determined".
- "Carolina Panthers history".
- NFL draft's first round moves to Thursday night for 2010
- "NFL Announces 32 Compensatory Draft Choices to 15 Clubs," National Football League press release, Monday, March 26, 2012.
- ESPN – Chiefs get largest rookie pool to pay draft picks – NFL
- "Elway to Marino". 30 for 30. Season 2. 2013-04-23. ESPN.
- 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
- , ESPN.com, April 26, 2006Page 2: The 100 worst draft picks everDavid Schoenfield, (see No. 45, Mike Mamula, a "workout wonder")
- Earley, Steve (2013-03-22). "A 'job fair' of sorts at ODU for local football players". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "NFL Draft Basics: Fan Tickets". Archived from the original on January 3, 2008. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
- Hack, Damon (February 11, 2005). "N.F.L. Is Seeking New Home for Draft". New York Times. Retrieved January 18, 2010.
- Fischer, Bryan. "New, fan-friendly events planned for 2015 NFL Draft in Chicago". NFL.com. NFL Productions LLC. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
- "NFL Draft Locations". www.footballgeography.com. October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
- "The Supplemental Draft – How does it work?". How does the supplemental draft work?.
- Miami Herald, “Sports Weekend” Feb 8, 1985
- "Colts Insist: Not Trade For Rights to No. 1 Pick". Retrieved October 9, 2011.
- "Sports Digest".
- Drafts in sports
- List of professional American football drafts
- List of NFL Draft broadcasters
- List of NFL Draft Mr. Irrelevants
- List of NFL Draft first overall picks
List of NFL supplemental draft picks
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.
The strategy devised by A.J. Faigin, to not declare for the NFL until after the regular draft, was subsequently used by other top players 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.
The result of Kosar’s withdrawal resulted in rare, open warfare among NFL teams played out in the newspapers with threats of lawsuits between them, notably the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants, who had expressed interest in choosing him in that season's regular draft. But as no rules were broken the Giants and eventually Minnesota had to back down. Following that season, the NFL instituted the current semi-random supplemental draft order.
A plan was devised by football agent A.J. Faigin that was to get him to his preferred team, the Cleveland Browns. Faigin was representing former University of Miami QB Jim Kelly, then in the USFL, but whose NFL rights were held by the Buffalo Bills. The USFL was in its last days and Kelly would soon be available to the Bills. Faigin's first step was to ask Bill Polian, the GM of Buffalo, if he would be willing to trade the number one supplemental pick (worth next to nothing at that time) to Cleveland. Polian agreed and Faigin told the Cleveland Browns a trade was available. He next notified Kosar's father he should not formally submit his son's application for the standard NFL draft that was weeks away and declare only afterward; which would put him into the supplemental draft.
The 1985 supplemental draft was particularly controversial. Quarterback Bernie Kosar who had led the University of Miami to its first National Championship in 1984 was earning his academic degree as a junior. Rather than finish his eligibility at Miami he wanted to turn pro. At this time college players had to wait for their class unless they themselves graduated early.
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.)
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 academic or disciplinary matters). The supplemental draft is scheduled to occur at some point after the regular draft and before the start of the next season. In 1984 the NFL held an additional draft for players who were under contract with either USFL or CFL teams.
Source: NFL Draft Locations
*: Year with more than one Draft venue
No Location (by telephone): 1965*
- Waldorf Astoria (1964–1966*)
New York: 1964–1966
- Nicollet Hotel (1960)
- Dallas Statler Hilton (1961–1963)
American Football League draft
Source: NFL Draft Locations
*: Year with more than one Draft venue
- Commodore Hotel (1948)
New York: 1948
- Shamrock Hotel (1950 cancelled)
Houston: 1950 cancelled due to NFL merger
- Hotel Cleveland (1947)
- Carter Hotel (1949*)
Cleveland: 1947, 1949
- Blackstone Hotel (1946)
The NFL has absorbed a number of other football leagues through mergers. A number of these leagues held drafts of their own before merging with the NFL.
Leagues that Merged with the NFL
Source: NFL Draft Locations
**The 2015 and 2016 draft were held in two adjacent venues, with one (Grant Park) hosting the selections and the other (the Auditorium Theatre) hosting the selection announcements during the first rounds, with the entirety of the later rounds being held in Grant Park
*: Year with more than one Draft venue
Washington, D.C.: 1941 (1)
Pittsburgh: 1948–1949 (2)
- Bellevue-Stratford Hotel: 1949*, 1950, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956*, 1957* (8)
- Racquet Club of Philadelphia: 1950* (1)
- Ritz-Carlton Hotel: 1936 (1)
- Warwick Hotel: 1944, 1957*, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961 (6)
Philadelphia: 1936, 1944, 1949–1961 (14)
- Americana Hotel: 1973, 1974 (2)
- Belmont Plaza Hotel: 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971 (4)
- Essex House: 1972 (1)
- Gotham Hotel: 1967 (1)
- Hilton at Rockefeller Center: 1975 (1)
- Commodore Hotel: 1944, 1945, 1947 (3)
- Hotel Lincoln: 1937 (1)
- Hotel Statler: 1952 (1)
- Javits Convention Center: 2005 (1)
- New York Marriott Marquis 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 (9)
- New York Sheraton Hotel/ Omni Park Central Hotel: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985 (6)
- New Yorker Hotel: 1939 (1)
- Radio City Music Hall: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 (9)
- Roosevelt Hotel 1976, 1977, 1978 (3)
- Summit Hotel: 1965, 1966 (2)
- Theater at Madison Square Garden: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999. 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 (10)
- Waldorf-Astoria Hotel: 1979 (1)
- Warwick Hotel: 1955 (1)
New York City: 1937, 1939, 1944–1945, 1947, 1952, 1955, 1965–2014 (57)
Milwaukee: 1940 (1)
Los Angeles: 1956 (1)
- Auditorium Theatre: 2015**, 2016** (2)
- Grant Park: 2015**, 2016** (2)
- Blackstone Hotel: 1951 (1)
- Sherman House Hotel: 1938 (1)
- Palmer House Hotel: 1942, 1943 (2)
- Sheraton Chicago Hotel: 1962, 1963, 1964 (3)
Chicago: 1938, 1942–1943, 1951, 1962–1964, 2015–2016 (9)
The 2006 draft was held at Radio City Music Hall, the first time this venue has hosted the gala, and it was held there until 2015, when the draft was held in Chicago's Auditorium Theater. The move marks the first time that the Draft has been in Chicago since 1964. 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.
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. (Some smaller universities join with nearby schools.) Essentially job fairs for prospective NFL players, pro days are held under the belief that players feel more comfortable at their own campus than they do at the Combine, which in turn leads to better performances. College teams which produce a large quantity of NFL prospects generally generate huge interest from scouts and coaches at their Pro Days.
The NFL Scouting Combine is a six-day assessment of skills occurring every year in late February or early March in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. 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. 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.
NFL Scouting Combine
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.
NFL Draft Advisory Board decisions
Events leading up to the draft
Teams vary greatly in their selection methodologies. Owners, general managers, coaches, and others may or may not participate. For the 1983 draft, for example, the Pittsburgh Steelers' head coach Chuck Noll had what team executive Art Rooney, Jr. later described as "the final say" over picks, even over his father, team owner Art Rooney. New England Patriots head coach Ron Meyer, by contrast, later stated that the team, led by owner Billy Sullivan, excluded the coaching staff from any personnel-related decisions, even prohibiting him from reading scouting reports. Had he had the decision-making authority, Meyer said, he would not have chosen Tony Eason in the first round of the 1983 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 outside of a designated area. 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). Also, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell penalized the New Orleans Saints by taking away their 2nd round picks in the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts in the wake of the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
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.
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.)
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.
The NFL allows 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.)
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.
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").
All compensatory picks are awarded at the ends of Rounds 3 through 7.
In addition to the 32 selections in each of the seven rounds, a total of 32 compensatory picks are awarded to teams that have lost more or better compensatory free agents than they signed in the previous year. 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.
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.
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. This also happened in 2011; as the Baltimore Ravens were negotiating a trade with the Chicago Bears, their time expired and allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to pick ahead of Baltimore, who was unable to finalize the trade with Chicago.
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.
The 2010 NFL draft was the first draft to take place over three days. Its first round 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 the remaining rounds on Saturday, April 24 at 10 a.m. ET.
An exception to this ordering strategy occurs when new "expansion teams" are added to the league. An expansion team is automatically granted the first selection. If there are two or more expansion teams added, a coin toss (for two expansion teams) or a drawing of lots (for three expansion teams or more) determines which team is awarded the first selection in the regular draft. The loser of the coin toss (or the winner of the drawing of lots in the event there are three or more expansion teams) is awarded the first selection in the expansion draft.
Once the order for the first round is determined as described above, the selection order remains the same for subsequent rounds with the exception of teams with similar records within their tier. These tied teams "cycle" picks in each subsequent round. For example, in the 2014 draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all finished 4–12, and selected in that order in the first round (based on the tiebreakers described above). In the second round, Jacksonville cycled to the back of the line with the order becoming Cleveland, Oakland, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Jacksonville. That cycling continued in each round.
|Eliminated in Wild Card round||21–24|
|Eliminated in Divisional round||25–28|
|Super Bowl runner-up||31|
|Super Bowl champion||32|
Teams that reached the playoffs the previous season are then slotted in the order in which they were eliminated as indicated in the table below. Within each tier, the slotting is determined as above (i.e. worst record picks first and the same tiebreakers apply).
- Strength of schedule, which is the combined win-loss record for all 16 of the team's opponents in the previous season (ties count as a half win and half loss). The team with the lower strength of schedule (i.e. their opponents compiled fewer wins) is granted the earlier pick in round one.
- Division tiebreakers (if the teams are in the same division).
- Conference tiebreakers (if the teams are in the same conference).
- Coin flip(s), which occur(s) at the pre-draft NFL Combine.
The selection order is based on each team's win-loss record in the previous season and whether the team reached the playoffs. Teams that did not reach the playoffs the previous season are ranked in reverse order of their records (so the team with the fewest wins is awarded the first selection). Ties between teams with identical records are determined by the following tiebreakers (in order):
Rules for determining draft order
Players who have been out of high school for at least three years are eligible for the NFL draft. The rules do not state that a player must attend college, but virtually all of the players selected in the NFL draft have played college football. A year as a redshirt player in college counts toward eligibility even though the player was not allowed to participate in games during that year, therefore players who have completed their redshirt sophomore year can enter the NFL draft. A few players are also selected from other football leagues like the Arena Football League or the Canadian Football League (CFL).
Contemporary procedure and rules
In 2010, the NFL moved to a three-day draft with the first day encompassing the first round beginning at 8:00 pm EDT, the second day encompassing the second and third rounds beginning at 7:00 pm EDT, and third day concluding the process with the final four rounds beginning at 11:00 am EDT Saturday.
In 1988, the NFL moved the draft from weekdays to the weekend and ESPN's ratings of the coverage improved dramatically. ESPN received competition in 2006 when the NFL Network, which had launched in October 2003, began to produce its own draft coverage.
In 1980, Chet Simmons, president of the year-old ESPN, asked Pete Rozelle if the fledgling network could broadcast coverage of the draft live on ESPN. Although Rozelle did not believe it would be entertaining television, he agreed.
ESPN and the digital age (1980–2013)
In the thirteenth round, 1949 NFL draft. He however, chose to sign with an AAFC team. Wally Triplett was chosen in the nineteenth and he would be the first African-American to be selected in the draft and make an NFL team. After the draft and prior to the start of the season, Paul "Tank" Younger was signed by the Los Angeles Rams as a free agent and became the first NFL player from an historically black college. Eddie Robinson, Younger's coach at Grambling, promptly and unequivocally, impressed upon him that the future of the recruitment and drafting of his colleagues at other black colleges lay in the balance based on his success with the Rams.
Competitive parity did not, however, quickly arrive in the NFL as perennial losers, such as the Eagles and Chicago Cardinals, standings' did not improve until 1947.
The NFL's competition with the AAFC in 1947 resulted in a temporary institution of a bonus pick.
Scouting era begins (1946–1959)
The draft would be eventually codified into the NFL Constitution, although no information is available on when that originally occurred.
An African-American had not played in the NFL since prior to the draft's institution. In 1939, Kenny Washington was, to no small extent, viewed as one of the greatest college football players of all time. After information was made available to at least one owner of a franchise, Washington was not drafted by any team for the 1940 NFL Draft.
Art Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates (later Steelers), chose Byron "Whizzer" White in the first round of the 1938 draft despite White's known public declaration that he would not play professional football and would instead begin work on his Rhodes scholarship. White did, however, agree to play for the 1938 season after Rooney publicly gave him a guaranteed contract of $15,000, double what any other player had ever made in the NFL. The size of the dollar amount brought condemnation from other owners because it altered the pay expectations of college draftees. For the 1939 draft Wellington, for the first time, was put in charge of drafting players for the Giants. He submitted the list of players into the pool that the Giants—or other franchises—could choose players from. However, in the first round he selected a player, Walt Nielsen, not on the list of players that the Giants or any other franchise had submitted. With a grin Wellington stated, "'I didn't think I said I put every name on that list.'"
Early drafts (1937–1946)
This draft saw the emergence of Wellington Mara as a savant, as he had been subscribing to magazines and local and out-of-town papers to build up dossiers of college players across the country, which resulted in the Giants' drafting of Tuffy Leemans. As a result of the institution of the draft, Tim Mara, owner of the Giants, reduced Ken Strong's salary offer to $3,200 from $6,000 a year for 1936 because Mara felt the draft would alter the salary structure of the NFL. Generally, the franchises' exclusivity in negotiating with draft picks produced the immediate effect of, depending on sources, stopping the escalating salaries of new players, or reducing their salaries. Consequently, contemporary critics charged it was anti-labor.
 The draft was recessed on the first day and it was continued and finished on the next day. Berwanger's decision to not play in the NFL was not unusual, as only twenty-four of the eighty-one players selected chose to play in the NFL that year.