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How does the NFL draft work? NFL draft explained

10 Mar | BY Guy Giles | MIN READ TIME |
How does the NFL draft work? NFL draft explained

How does the NFL draft work? From order of selection to compensatory picks, our guide explains it all.

What is the NFL draft?

The NFL draft is an annual event which gives all 32 teams the opportunity to strengthen their rosters by selecting the best players coming out of college.

When is the NFL draft in 2023?

The draft takes place over three days in April every year.

This is the halfway point between the previous season’s Super Bowl and the beginning of training camps in July.

The 2023 NFL draft is set to take place between 27 and 29 April.

Where is the NFL draft in 2023?

From 1965 to 2014, the NFL draft was held in New York City.

The league has since staged the draft across the country, with Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Nashville and Las Vegas all hosting the event.

The 2023 NFL draft is set to take place at Union Station in Kansas City. 

How does the NFL draft work?

Each team is assigned a position in the order of selection relating to their performance in the previous season.

The 20 teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs are given slots 1-20, with the team that compiled the worst record in the league picking first.

The 12 teams that did qualify for the playoffs then take up slots 21-32, depending on how they fared in the postseason.

The four teams eliminated in the wild card round are given slots 21-24, with the order determined by their regular season records.

The four teams eliminated in the divisional round are assigned slots 25-28, again depending on their regular season records.

The two conference round losers pick 29th and 30th according to the same formula, with the Super Bowl winners and runners-up picking last and second-last.

In the event of two teams having identical records from the previous season, the order is then determined by strength of schedule, or the aggregate winning percentage of their opponents.

The team that had an easier schedule is rewarded with a lower pick.

How many rounds are in the NFL draft?

There are seven rounds in the NFL draft, each comprised of 32 picks.

How many picks does each team have?

All 32 teams are assigned one pick per round, so everyone gets seven in total.

Picks can, however, be traded, so some teams may have two or three in a round, while others may have none.

How do NFL trades work?

A draft pick can be traded between teams, either for another draft pick or for a current NFL player to which they hold the rights.

Teams can therefore use draft picks as makeweights in a trade for a player, or to secure a better position in a future draft.

Trades are allowed to happen any time before or during the draft – if a trade is agreed during the event then the league must ratify both sides of the deal before it is made official.

When a trade has been confirmed by the NFL, the relevant information is passed on to the other teams and broadcasters before being announced on stage.

What are the NFL draft rules?

Teams are given a certain amount of time to make their pick, depending on the round.

In the first round, teams have 10 minutes to make their selection.

In the second, teams are given seven minutes to pick their player.

From rounds three to six, each team has five minutes, and in the final round they have four.

If a team runs out of time to make their pick they are still able to make their selection at any time, but the team after them in the order is able to make a pick as well.

As long as they delay making their pick, the teams behind them in the order will be able to carry on drafting players before them.

How do NFL teams make draft picks?

Each team has a table set up at the draft venue in an area known as Selection Square.

There are representatives from each club present at the draft, who remain in constant contact with executives based at their headquarters.

When a team has decided upon a player to draft, the representatives stationed in Selection Square write down their name, position, and college on a piece of paper.

This is then handed to a member of NFL staff, known as a runner, with the selection now confirmed and official.

This information is then communicated to NFL officials and the other teams, before being announced by Roger Goodell, the league commissioner.

What are compensatory picks?

As well as the 224 picks made across the seven rounds of the draft, the NFL can assign up to 32 compensatory picks each year.

These picks act as compensation for teams that have lost more free agents than they have signed over the previous season.

The number of compensatory picks given to each team is determined by a formula devised by the NFL Management Council, with the value of each free agent taken into account.

Not every team will have compensatory picks every year, while some may have more than one, up to a maximum of four.

These picks then take place at the end of rounds three to seven.

Who is eligible for the draft?

A player must have been out of high school for at least three years to be eligible for the NFL draft.

This usually means that a player must be in his junior season at college to be eligible, but redshirt sophomores are also allowed to enter.

These players, known as underclassmen, must apply to the NFL for approval to enter the draft.

College seniors or players who have already graduated are only eligible for the draft in the year after the end of their college eligibility.

2023 NFL draft order

The draft order will be determined at the end of the regular season.

Visit Betway’s NFL betting page.

Guy Giles

Guy Giles

Sports writer who produces regular football and cricket tips, while also covering a range of other sports.

Guy Giles

Guy Giles

Sports writer who produces regular football and cricket tips, while also covering a range of other sports.