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The NFL Draft is an annual event in which the 32 National Football League teams select new eligible college football players. It is the NFL's most common source of player recruitment.

Contents

Venue

The draft has taken place since 1936[1] 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 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.[2]

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.[3] 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.[citation needed] However, those fans who stay for the duration of Day 2 of the NFL Draft are eligible to receive free NFL Draft Day 1 tickets for the following year which are mailed to the fans' house.

Recent and upcoming drafts

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2009 NFL Draft

2010 NFL Draft

Procedure and rules

Eligibility

The draft is the first chance teams get to conduct contract negotiations with players who have been out of high school for three years. Most drafted players come directly out of NCAA programs as seniors or juniors, all players entering the draft must have at least three years of college experience, while some players are selected from other professional leagues like the Arena Football League. All players who choose to enter the selected year's draft must sign an agent prior to entering the draft. 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 he is told differently by the NFL commissioner.[4]

Selection format

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, 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:

  1. 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 first in the expansion draft.
  2. The winners of the Super Bowl are given the last selection, and the losers the penultimate selection.
  3. Teams that made the playoffs are then ordered by how they performed in the playoffs. The conference championship losers receive the third and fourth to last selections. Next are the four teams who lost in the divisional round, followed by the four teams who lost in the wild card round. Each team is ordered within this primary order by their regular-season record.
  4. Teams that did not make the playoffs are ordered by their regular-season record.
  5. 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.)

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, 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, although Commissioner Roger Goodell has suggested the possibility of a 3-day draft starting on prime-time. The draft would takes place with round one on Day 1, rounds two and three on Day 2, and rounds four through seven on Day 3.[5] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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 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.

Pick trades

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.

Compensatory picks

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.

Salaries

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.[6] 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 dollar 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.

Forfeiture

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 an opponent's 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).

Supplemental Draft

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.

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 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 2009, 38 players have been taken in the Supplemental Draft.[citation needed]

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 circus, occurring every year in late February or early March in Indianapolis, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium, 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.

Tests/evaluations include:

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.[7][8][9]

Pro Day

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. The NCAA allows this to happen.

See also

References

  1. ^ "NFL Draft History". http://www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ "NFL Draft Basics: Fan Tickets". http://www.draftnotebook.com/draft_basics.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  4. ^ http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/blog/shutdown_corner/post/NFL-rookie-holdouts-Two-who-succeeded-two-who-?urn=nfl,194624
  5. ^ http://blogs.nfl.com/2009/04/28/draft-moving-to-prime-time/
  6. ^ ESPN - Chiefs get largest rookie pool to pay draft picks - NFL
  7. ^ Isaac Cheifetz, Hiring Secrets of the NFL: How Your Company Can Select Talent Like a Champion (2007), 68, available at Google Books
  8. ^ Rich Eisen, Total Access: A Journey to the Center of the NFL Universe (2007), 128, available at Google Books
  9. ^ David Schoenfield, Page 2: The 100 worst draft picks ever, ESPN.com, April 26, 2006 (see #45, Mike Mamula, a "workout wonder")

External links


Simple English

The NFL Draft is a sports draft held every year. In the draft National Football League (NFL) teams select new players to be added to their team's roster. These new players usually are those ending their time playing football in college.

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