What is the NFL Draft and how does it work?

Next weekend is the NFL 2014 Draft. May 8-10th in New York City at Radio City Music Hall.

Great. Now why should you care?

Well, if you love football, you care, at least a little bit. If you are a football fanatic, you will watch every second, counting down each team’s time limit and pontificating on who they are going to pick, why and if it’s a good decision or not.

But, if you are like the vast majority of everyone in the world, you probably have no clue what it is, how it works, what the strategy is, etc. In fact, you probably couldn’t care less!!

Well, remember, at Flip the Field, our primary goal is to help you look good. And by good, we mean hot! It’s true, if a guy likes football, he loves a girl who likes football too. Don’t believe us, just ask one!

Anyway, we thought we’d give you the skinny on what the NFL Draft is and the very basics of how the draft works. We are not going to go through our version of a ‘mock draft’ or anything like that. Just give you enough knowledge to be ‘dangerous’… in a good kind of way.

What is the NFL Draft?

The NFL Draft happens once a year and is one of the primary ways an NFL team ‘acquires’ new players. It occurs over 3 days and all 32 NFL teams take turns indicating what upcoming players they would like to add to their team.

Think of it as an elaborate playground pick. You know, the two captains going back and forth picking kids to play kick ball? Remember that awful feeling in your gut just hoping not to be last and wondering why they picked Joe instead of John when John kicks harder?

Well, it’s a lot like that but there are 32 ‘captains’ and a huge group of kids anxiously waiting to figure out when and if they will be asked to play. Oh, and where?!?

How does the NFL Draft work?

The key piece of the puzzle is the order teams get to pick. Essentially, the worst team picks first and the best team (Super Bowl Champion) picks last. However, there is a lot more to it than that. Lots of teams have the same record (e.g. 4-12). If so, they go through all sorts of tie breakers. All teams who made it to the post season (playoffs) are dealt with separately. Here is this year’s order (before any trades are made).

The next key piece of the puzzle is who are they picking? Someone must be ‘eligible’ for the draft and also say that they want to be in the draft. More on that next.

Lastly, the NFL powers that be decide on a date (actually 3 days in a row) and then they control the process.

There are 7 rounds in the draft. A round is a chance for all professional teams to have 1 pick, so 32 picks in a row, then on to the next round. (quick math: 7 rounds * 32 teams = 224 players to be picked in the draft)

Each team has a specified amount of time to make their pick. In the first round, each team gets 10 minutes. In the second round they get 7 minutes. And in rounds 3-7, they get 5 minutes. Not a lot of time, right? Well, obviously they have done their research and decided what players and positions they are trying to go after. If they can’t decide in time, the next team is allowed to pick. When the team who lost their turn makes up their mind, they get to pick but they certainly would have lost some chances.

When a team is up to make their pick, they are considered “on the clock”.

Who is in the NFL Draft (i.e. Who is eligible for the NFL Draft)?

To be eligible for the draft,  you must be out of high school for at least 3 years. You don’t have to be playing football in college but essentially all of the folks in the draft do.

If you play football and think you are good enough for the NFL, you fill out an application by a specific deadline. If the NFL receives the application on time and you meet the eligibility requirements, you are able to be in the draft and they’ll add your name to the list.

If you have not completed all of your available years in college football and apply for the Draft, you forfeit the remaining years of your college eligibility. A bit of a risk for some kids who ‘come out early’ and declare themselves for the draft. If they don’t make it, they can’t go back and play in college either.

What is the basic strategy used in the NFL Draft?

OK, this is where it gets really crazy. I promised I’d keep it at a high level, so here goes.

One piece of the strategy is knowing what positions your team needs to be better. Maybe you need a new leader and a new quarterback. Maybe your defensive line is weak. Maybe you have no kicking game and someone who can kick is what you need. Whatever, you will try to fill out key positions on your team.

Another things is the number of picks you get and when you get to pick. By default, all teams get 7 picks (one per round). However, teams can trade amongst themselves. So, say your team is the first to pick and you don’t have to have one of the top players. You could trade that to another team for 1 or more of their picks in this NFL draft or even future NFL drafts. There is a lot of this going on. Just know it can be done. The rest is too much to worry about.

Another piece of the strategy is money. Each team is allowed a rookie salary cap based on some weird and complicated formula that’s not important. However, what is important is that you only have so much ‘money’ to use on your picks so you have to watch that too.

Bottom line, there is no way I could ever understand the strategy each team deploys each year given their team, their needs, their money, etc.

What does it mean to be a first round draft pick?

Well, it means you are AWESOME! You have a better chance to be remembered for the rest of your life. It means you have high expectations on you and you’ll receive a union backed big old paycheck.

There will be 32 players drafted in the first round. This will be what people are talking about. Perhaps try to remember the top 3 and the first player your team (or your man’s team) picked. That’s what you need.

What are the implications of where someone is drafted during the NFL Draft?

Simple answer: MONEY! The higher you are taken in the draft, the more money the team has to pay you.

Other than that: Pride, avoiding that picked last on the playground feeling. Of course, you also get the opposite affect for those drafted really high who just never reach the expectations people had for them.

2014 NFL Draft Pick Up Lines

As usual, we would like to give you a few one-liners to throw out when the guys are starting to jabber about the draft. Just watch their mouth drop!

“Who do you think really wants Johnny Football?”

“Will the first pick be a quarterback?

“Who is your favorite QB pick? Johnny? Blake? AJ? Teddy? <you can pick the name you like best and let that be your choice>”

“I sure hope <insert your team here> picks smart this year”

“Who do you think Houston will pick with the first pick of the draft?”

Share with your friends who need to know this!

Tell us what you think!