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NFL Draft

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NFL Drafts by the Year

2000s

2009 • 2008 • 2007 • 2006 • 2005
2004 • 2003 • 2002 • 2001 • 2000

1990s

1999 • 1998 • 1997 • 1996 • 1995
1994 • 1993 • 1992 • 1991 • 1990

1980s

1989 • 1988 • 1987 • 1986 • 1985
1984 • 1983 • 1982 • 1981 • 1980

1970s

1979 • 1978 • 1977 • 1976 • 1975
1974 • 1973 • 1972 • 1971 • 1970

1960s

1969 • 1968 • 1967 • 1966 • 1965
1964 • 1963 • 1962 • 1961 • 1960

1950s

1959 • 1958 • 1957 • 1956 • 1955
1954 • 1953 • 1952 • 1951 • 1950

1940s

1949 • 1948 • 1947 • 1946 • 1945
1944 • 1943 • 1942 • 1941 • 1940

1930s

1939 • 1938 • 1937 • 1936

Sources

The NFL Draft has been in New York City since 1965 and has had to move into larger venues as the event has gained in popularity, drawing fans from across the country who are looking for a reason to paint their faces in April. The 2008 NFL Draft will be held at Radio City Music Hall, where the draft has been held since 2006. Madison Square Garden had hosted the event for a number of years before moving to the Javits Convention Center in 2005 following a dispute with MSG management opposing a new stadium for the New York Jets.

Tickets are free, but 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.

The current format consists of seven rounds. Each team is assigned a selection in each round, with the team with the worst record from the previous year being assigned the first pick in each round. The team with the second-worst record gets the second pick, and so on until the 32nd and last team (the team that won the Super Bowl) makes its selection. 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 offensive linemen, which can skew those dollar figures slightly.

Each team has its representatives attend the draft. During the draft, one team is always "on the clock". In Round 1, teams have 15 minutes to make their choice. The decision time drops to 10 minutes in the second round and to 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 late team may have been eyeing.

The NFL Draft has developed a phenomenon known as "Mr. Irrelevant", which is the final player taken over the two-day event. This player actually receives some celebrity status, receiving a parade and even a Heisman Trophy lookalike, of a player fumbling a ball. Past "honorees" of the Mr. Irrelevant title can be seen here.

Eligibility

The draft is the first chance each team gets at players who have been out of high school for at least three years. Players whose high school class did not graduate three or more years before are not eligible for the draft and hence are not eligible to play in the NFL. Most drafted players come directly out of college programs as seniors or juniors, though some underclassmen are eligible, and other players are selected from other pro leagues like the Arena Football League.

Salaries

The NFL allows each team to spend a limited amount of money from its salary cap to sign rookies (including undrafted players). Teams with higher picks get a higher rookie salary cap allocation. In most years, the salary cap increases from the year before, so most years there is more money allotted to teams for signing rookies. This form of salary control is legal because it has been negotiated into the NFL's collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).

Tiebreaking Procedure

If two or more teams have the same win/loss record, then their opponents' win/loss record is used as the tiebreaker. The team with the lowest opponents' winning percentage gets the higher pick. For example, five teams (Tennessee Titans, New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers) finished with a 4-12 record in 2005, but as Tennessee's opponents had the worst winning percentage among the five teams, the Titans will be the first 4-12 team to make their pick. If two teams have the same win/loss record and opponents' win/loss record, then a coin toss decides who picks first.

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, any non-drafted rookies are allowed to 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.

Compensatory Picks

In addition to the 32 picks in each round, there are a total of 31 picks dispersed at the ends of Rounds 3-7. These picks, which are known as "compensatory picks" are awarded to teams who have lost more talented players than they gained the previous year in free agency. These picks cannot be traded.

Supplemental Draft

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. The supplemental draft maintains the same team order from the regular draft, with the team with the worst record in the previous season picking first. However, 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 Hollings was taken by the Houston Texans in 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 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 hometown Cleveland Browns, who advised him 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 reoccurrence of this incident.

More recently, 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 32 players have been taken in the past 26 Supplemental Drafts.

See Also

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