- NFL Draft
The NFL Draft is an annual
sports draftin which NFL teams select newly-eligible players for their rosters. It is used to determine which newly eligible players will play for which NFL teams.
The draft has taken place in
New York Citysince 1965 and has had to move into larger venues as the event has gained in popularity, drawing fans from across the country. 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. Madison Square Gardenhad hosted the event for a number of years, but the NFL moved it to the Javits Convention Centerin 2005 following a dispute with the Cablevision-owned arena, who were opposing a new New York Jets/2012 Olympic Stadium which would compete with the Garden for 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. [cite web
title = NFL Draft Basics: Fan Tickets
accessdate = 2008-01-04 ] Long waits in line can be expected for fans hoping to get a live glimpse of their team's high-profile picks, or to express their displeasure at their team picking the "wrong" guy. Fans must arrive early in order to attend the draft.fact|date=September 2008
Since its first broadcast on ESPN in 1980 the draft has gained a cult-like following. The term
draftnikwas coined to describe these fanatics.
Procedure and Rules
The draft is the first chance teams gets to make contract negotiations with players who have been out of high school for three years. Most drafted players come directly out of
College Footballprograms as seniors or juniors, while some players are selected from other professional leagues like the Arena Football League. A player who is drafted but does not sign a contract can sit out that season, which is referred to as a " holdout", and can re-enter the draft the following year unless they were told differently by the NFL commissioner.fact|date=December 2007
The Draft currently lasts seven rounds.
Rules for determining 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, except as noted below:
#The winners of the
Super Bowlare given the last selection, and the losers the second to last selection.cite news
title = 2007 NFL Draft Order
publisher = NFL.com
accessdate = 2007-02-23 ]
#Remaining teams are sorted by regular season record, with worse records picking first, regardless of playoff status; teams that make the playoffs "can" pick before teams that do not.
#For teams with the same record, teams that fail to make the playoffs always pick before teams that earned playoff berths.
#For teams that make the playoffs, ties are broken by the order in which teams lost in the playoffs.
#Remaining ties are broken by
strength of schedule(In the NFL, a team's strength of schedule is the combined records of its 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 will add up to 256, so a team whose opponents had more combined wins has a better 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 Combineis used to determine draft order.
Once the order for the first round is determined, teams with the same record "cycle" picks in each subsequent round, regardless of playoff status or any other factor (except that the Super Bowl teams will always pick last in every 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.
The draft currently takes place over two days, with rounds one and two on Day 1 and rounds three through seven on Day 2. Enthusiasts who stay through the end of day 2 will receive VIP passes to skip the lines and get preferred seating to the following year's draft.fact|date=December 2007
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.fact|date=December 2007
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 doesn't 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 Jaguarsdrafted quarterback Byron Leftwichand the Carolina Panthersdrafted offensive tackle Jordan Grossbefore 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. This is the process by which a team may have none or multiple picks in a given round.
In addition to the 32 picks in each round, there are a total of up to 32 picks dispersed 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 capto 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 Brownswho had only five picks, and none in the first three rounds. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3385956 ESPN - Chiefs get largest rookie pool to pay draft picks - NFL ] ] 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.)
In late summer, the NFL also holds a Supplemental Draft to accommodate players who did not enter the regular draft because they thought they still had academic eligibility to play college football. 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, RB
Tony Hollingswas taken by the Houston Texansin the second round of the Supplemental Draft in 2003; thus, in the 2004 NFL Draft, the Texans forfeited a second-round pick.)
The 1985 Supplemental Draft was particularly controversial.
Bernie Kosarof the University of Miamiearned 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 clubs, notably the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants, who had expressed interest in choosing him in that season's regular draft. Many of today's Supplemental Draft rules aim at preventing a recurrence of this incident.
As of 2007, players who enter the Supplemental Draft usually are graded as players who should be drafted at a later round, or who have college eligibility problems (poor academic or discipline issues). Only 38 players have been taken since the NFL instituted the Supplemental Draft in 1977.
Events leading up to the Draft
NFL Scouting Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is a three-day showcase, occurring every year at the end of February in
Indianapolis, Indiana's RCA Dome, where 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
Wonderlic TestAthletes 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, whereby an athlete, based on superior measurables such as size, speed and strength, have increased their "draft stock" despite having a possibly average or subpar college career.fact|date=December 2007
Each university has a pro day, where NFL scouts are allowed to come and watch players participate in the events that take place at the Combine at their own school. This is done as it is believed that players feel more comfortable at their own campus than they do at the Combine and therefore should perform better. Major college teams, which produce a large quantity of NFL prospects, generate huge interest from scouts and coaches at their pro days.
List of NFL first overall draft choices
List of professional football drafts
List of NFL Draft broadcasters
* [http://www.nfl.com/draft/ Official NFL Draft Site]
* [http://www.nfl.com/draft/history/ Official NFL Draft History (1936-Present)]
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