Nfl Draft History
NFL draft history began in 1936 when the league used this method to select players for the first time. Since that time, the NFL draft has become a tool to assess a team's needs and find players who best fit those needs. Sometimes, players selected in the draft will never play a single down. In many cases, though, the NFL draft opens a door for a team to build itself into a playoff contender or Super Bowl winner.
Origins: Jay Berwanger holds the distinction of being selected as the No. 1 pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first NFL draft in 1936. Berwanger, who played at halfback for the University of Chicago, also was the first player to be awarded the prestigious Heisman Trophy -- given annually to the nation's top college football player. His rights were traded to the Chicago Bears, but Berwanger never played a down of professional football. Nine teams participated in the initial NFL draft, and it featured nine rounds.
Rules: The current format for the NFL draft consists of seven rounds. A total of 32 picks are made in each round, one for each NFL team. Selections are assigned in each round based on the previous season's record. The team with the worst record is assigned the first pick in each round and the Super Bowl winner is assigned the last pick. If two teams finish with the same record, strength of schedule is used as a tiebreaker. Any expansion team automatically is awarded the first pick. When there are two expansion teams, a coin toss determines who picks first. The loser of the toss picks second. Teams are allotted ten minutes to make their selections in round 1, seven minutes in round 2 and five minutes in each of the remaining rounds.
Eligibility: All players who have been out of high school for at least three years are eligible to enter the draft. Most players in a typical NFL draft are either juniors or seniors from college football teams. Occassionally, players from other professional leagues like the Arena Football League are also selected.
Compensatory Picks: Up to 32 additional picks can be dispersed at the end of the final five rounds. These picks are awarded to teams who lost more qualifying free agents than they gained through free agency the previous season. Compensatory picks cannot be traded. Where a team receives these picks is based on a combination of the departed player's salary, playing time, and postseason honors with his new team.
Supplimental Picks: Since 1977, the draft has included a supplemental draft for players who did not enter the main NFL draft. Players who were dismissed from college over eligibility issues are typically entrants into the supplemental draft. As of 2010, 40 players had been selected with supplemental draft picks. Notable selections include the Cleveland Browns taking Bernie Kosar in 1985 and the Philadelphia Eagles selecting Cris Carter in 1987. Most NFL teams shy away from selecting in the supplemental draft because they forfeit the corresponding pick in the NFL draft the following season.