A Dummies Guide to the NFL Draft
For those special people that live in a box that I so fondly mention from time to time, I’m going to say the following; football is America’s sport, NFL football to be specific, and though it may be in the middle of its off-season, that doesn’t stop it from being worth following. There are many after season events to follow, such as free-agency, the college Combine, beginning of team camps and the granddaddy of all the off-season spectacles, the NFL Draft.
But what’s a “draft”, some may ask? What/why/how does the NFL have one?
If you are one of those people asking those questions, (and you know you are) then today’s your lucky day because the EveryMan is here to give you the rundown on exactly how this tricky event goes down…free of charge! (A bargain in this troubled economic time)
Officially, the NFL draft is best described as “the primary vehicle by which National Football League teams select newly-eligible players (primarily from college football) for their rosters”.
Unofficially, it’s a very drawn out process in which NFL teams roll the dice and spend millions of dollars on how good they think a player is going to be. It’s all a crap shoot really, and it’s the accumulation of countless hours of work testing, following and dissecting hundreds of people’s lives to try to compensate for the uncertainty of it all.
The current draft, held this year in the Radio City Music Hall in New York, is a two day event (Sat, April 24th and Sun. April 25th this year) and is ordered 1-32. The placing of this order is done primarily on the record a team finished with and how far they went in the playoffs (worst record=first pick while SuperBowl winners get the 32nd) Ties are broken by strength of schedule.
But don’t get to comfortable with where your team is sitting in the draft because it may change, primarily due to trades. Trades take place all the time, both on draft weekend and well before, and can involve any number of players and draft choices, thereby affecting the order in which teams’ draft.
As mentioned above, the draft takes place over two days and consists of seven rounds, with the first two being held in day one while the remaining five are had on day two. (On a side note, the cool thing about the draft is that it encourages fans that attend to stick through all seven rounds. Those that do get VIP passes and preferred seating at the following year’s draft. Neat!)
The rounds are timed, with the first being 10 minutes per team, the second 7 minutes and the remaining rounds are 5 minutes. You don’t have to use all of the time but it’s generally done in the first few rounds. It’s done this way, with the early rounds getting more time, because the pay scale for these potential rookies is determined mainly on where they are drafted, and you are talking major dollars to first rounders.
Are you confused yet? It’s completely understandable if you are a little, this may not be rocket science but it’s not ‘go fish’ either. Just keep in mind that the end result for every team is improving and getting the best possible value for its pick. The tricky part comes in when you factor in that no two teams think alike when it comes to talent evaluation so you sometimes get a head scratching deal or two.
So, in conclusion, I encourage you to take any newfound knowledge from this article and flip on the draft this weekend to see what all the hype is about. You never know, your team could land the next Peyton Manning…or the next Ryan Leaf…but the uncertainty and intrigue is what binds the draft to the human psyche like super glue.
*the NFL draft can be seen on ESPN starting at 4 pm on Saturday, April 25th