Arguably the biggest event of the off season, the NFL Draft draws a huge audience from teams and fans alike. For the eligible college football players, the Combine, team Pro Day, and every other workout has been in the lead up to this moment. Fans get the chance to cheer, sob, and every emotion in between, as their teams choose the players they best think will improve their franchise in the coming years. A very exciting time, the draft is an intricate process, and a lot goes on in the preparation for those picks. Lets have a look at whats in store for this years draft..
Draft Dates & CoverageWhen:
- Day 1 Round 1: Friday April 27th @ 10:00am AEST
- Day 2 Rounds 2 - 3: Saturday 28 April, 9:00am AET
- Day 3 Rounds 4 - 7: Sunday 29 April, 2:00am AET
- Radio City Music Hall, New York
- ESPN: All days live on ESPN, ESPN HD, & ESPN2 (check our TV Guide more closer to the date for exact times and coverage information)
- NFL Game Pass: Live coverage included in the NFL Network package at http://network.nfl.com/nfln/secure/registerform
- One HD: Awaiting reply/No information yet
Draft Information & History
Started in 1936 with the goal of improving parity in the league by giving the NFL’s worst teams the chance to acquire the best new players, the Draft has grown into the highly anticipated, prime time event that it is today. Based off their result from the previous season, teams are given the chance to select the players that they think will best improve their team, from a group of eligible collegiate athletes. The shape and operation of the draft has changed greatly since its beginning; it started with 9 rounds of 9 selections, had no media coverage, and teams simply chose from a list of 99 players written on a whiteboard. These days, every single team spends months considering each and every player who has declared for the draft, and draws up a ‘draft board’ with an ordering of how they believe the players rank. For a player to be eligible, they need to be at least 3 years out of High School. Attending College is not compulsory; however, it is very hard to gain publicity without doing so, as NCAA football is the main means of finding players, and therefore draws a trememdous amount of interest and focus from scouts, teams, and fans alike. After the draft, a bunch of players are left having not been selected by any one. They become Free Agents, and are free to sign with whichever team offers them a contract.
The Selection ProcessThe Draft is held over 3 days, largely because of the desire to make the event more television friendly (and profitable). On the first day, only the 32 picks of the first round are chosen. The second day involves the second and third rounds (picks 33-96), and day 3 sees rounds 4 to 7 (picks 97-253) completed. When their chance to select a player begins, a team is classified as being “on the clock”. This means that it is that team’s turn to make their selection. The time each team has to make a choice varies; in the first round, teams have 10 minutes to make their selection. In round 2, this time drops to 7 minutes. And In rounds 3-7, teams have 5 minutes. Teams do not need to make their selection in the allotted time. However, if they have not chosen a player when it expires, the team choosing after them has the ability to select before them, and potentially steal a player that team was considering. An example of this is from the 2003 draft, where the Minnesota Vikings (who held the 7th overall pick) were so slow making their selection that the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers were both able to make their picks before the Vikings settled on Defensive Tackle Kevin Williams. When a team has chosen the player they want to select, they inform NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who then either announces the selection himself (which happens the majority of the time), or introduces a special guest who reads the selection out in his place. Usually a guest has ties to the team whose pick he is announcing, and several such guests will take that role each draft.
Assigning Teams Their Picks
The process for assigning each team their picks is fairly straight forward. In the first round, teams are ranked by their record at the end of the previous year’s season, with playoff teams being ordered by the round in which they reached. Picks 1-20 are allocated to non-playoff teams. Picks 21-24 are held by the teams who lost in the Wildcard round of the playoffs. Picks 25-28 go to the teams that lost in the divisional round. Picks 29-30 go to the losers of the conference championships, pick 31 to the Super Bowl runners up, and pick 32 to the Super Bowl Champions. For teams who share the same record, the order is determined by assessing the strength of their schedules. Strength of schedule is worked out by adding together the record of all the other teams that that team played, and then seeing which team’s opponents had the least wins. The team with the ‘easier’ schedule has the higher pick. For example: The Indianapolis Colts and St Louis Rams both finished with a 2-14 record. The Colts’ opponents’ total record was 142-114, and the Rams’ opponents’ were 151-105. Therefore, the Colts get the number 1 pick. In situations where teams share the same strength of schedule (such as with the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs this year), a coin toss determines who picks higher. For rounds 2-7, the general structure of ordering by record remains, with a minor modification. Teams with the same record will cycle through having the top pick out of their grouping, with the top team going to the bottom, and each other team moving up 1 spot. For example: The Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills all finished with a 6-10 record. In round 1, the order is Miami, Carolina, Buffalo. In the second round, the order is Carolina, Buffalo, Miami. And in round 3, it is Buffalo, Miami, Carolina. This order continues to cycle through each round that the draft progresses.
Compensatory SelectionsSince 1994, in addition to the regular picks that each team gets, the NFL also awards compensatory selections. These extra picks are given to teams who have lost free agent players the previous off season, without signing any other free agents of higher or equivalent value. The value of players is judged on how they performed in the season prior to the upcoming draft. These picks range from the 3rd to 7th round, and are intended to enable each team to replace the free agent they lost with a player who is theoretically going to be just as good. A maximum of 4 picks can be awarded to each team. A minimum of 32 extra selections must be awarded by the league. If this number isn’t reached with compensatory selections, then it is made up with “Supplemental Compensatory Selections” These act more or less like an 8th round, as they are awarded progressively from the weakest team up, until the total number of 32 extra selections is reached. This year, there were 30 Compensatory selections awarded, and as such only 2 supplementary picks were needed.
Trading SelectionsAs a part of negotiating trades with other teams, draft picks are often traded or exchanged in order to secure a desired player, or higher position in the upcoming draft. These deals take place often, and each and every draft is made up of a bunch of teams picking from spots that they weren't originally allocated. A team can gain and lose as many picks as they want, and there is no limit to the number of selections a team can have in any one round. A good example of this is the New England Patriots, who this year have 6 picks in the first 4 rounds, including 2 in the first round, and none in rounds 5-7. The most common act of trading picks is to gain another player; amongst many others, in 2011, the Baltimore Ravens traded their 2012 4th round pick to the Buffalo Bills, in exchange for Wide Receiver Lee Evans. In addition to exchanging picks for players, teams may also trade a series of picks to move to a higher spot in the draft. A big example of this took place earlier this year, when the Washington Redskins sent their first round pick from 2012 (number 6), 2013 and 2014, as well as their 2012 second round pick (39) to the St Louis Rams, in exchange for this year's number 2 overall selection. The Redskins will hope to land a player who will have a huge impact for several years to come (more than likely Quarterback Robert Griffin III), and the Rams now have a handful of extra picks that will gain them some very skilled players over the next few drafts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_hjGU6oslw These trades also can take place on draft day, after teams can see who is still on the board at the pick they may wish to trade into. The Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons did this in 2011 in the video above.
Forfeited SelectionsIf a team is found to be in breach of league rules, they may forfeit some of their picks from the upcoming draft(s). The round in which a chosen pick is forfeited depends on the severity of the offense. For example, due to the “BountyGate” scandal, the New Orleans Saints have forfeited their second round picks from this years and next years draft. The Detroit Lions have also forfeited a 6th round pick from this years draft, as last year, new Defencive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham ‘tampered’ with players from his former team, the Kansas City Chiefs, stating publicly that he hoped to sign some of their upcoming free agents to the Lions roster (A member of management staff can't be seen as having influenced a player's decision while they are still under contract with another team). Another way a team may forfeit picks is by selecting a player in the previous year’s Supplemental Draft. 2012 draft forfeited picks:
- New Orleans will forfeit its second-round selection as well as a 2013 second-round selection as part of the punishment for the team's bounty scandal.
- Oakland will forfeit its third-round selection after selecting quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the 2011 Supplemental Draft.
- Detroit will forfeit its sixth-round selection due to findings of tampering consisting of comments made by defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham about certain Kansas City Chiefs' players.