The Ins and Outs of the NFL Draft

How the NFL Draft Works: A Brief History

April 27, 2023

The NFL Draft: where dreams come true. Certain athletes dream their whole lives of joining the NFL, and only a handful make it: 224 people to be exact. Whether players are drafted in the first round, or the seventh, it is an exciting event, and not just for players, but for fans, coaches, front offices, and just about everyone who watches the NFL. But being drafted comes with lofty expectations that not everyone can meet.

The NFL draft is the process in which collegiate level or amateur athletes go pro in their sport. Whether it be the NFL, NBA, or MLB, most major professional sports have a draft. Drafts differ from sport to sport. While the NFL draft may have seven rounds with thirty-two picks per round, the NBA draft has only two rounds with thirty picks per round. Picks are also valued differently. In the NFL, a third round pick has decent value and teams regularly pick really good players in the third round.

The NFL draft has been hosted in major cities like Chicago in 2016, Philadelphia in 2017, Dallas in 2018, and Nashville in 2019. This year, the draft will be held in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2023.

High school is where the draft starts. It may seem pretty far off from the NFL, which it is in terms of skill and talent, but this is where the journey begins for every player. No players are drafted straight out of high school, but players leave their mark for the future during this period. 

College teams recruit high school players based on their skill level, their level of competition, potential, and character. High school recruits are given a one out of five star rating to show how good they are. The best teams, like Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State, have monopolies over the top recruits. From 2003 to 2010, there were 262 five-star recruits. Of those recruits, nine went to Alabama, twenty-five went to Florida, ten went to Ohio State, ten went to Michigan, thirty-one went to USC, twelve went to LSU, and eight went to Notre Dame. Those are just a few of the top prospects, with a few of the schools that get top recruits every year. 

The NFL usually begins to look at prospects in college. There are three different divisions: divisions one, two, and three. Division one is the highest form of competition and scales down accordingly. The FBS is the Football Bowl Subdivision, and is considered Division I-A because it’s the highest level of college football. The FCS, or the Football Championship Subdivision is also part of Division One, but it doesn’t have the prestigious conferences like the ACC, SEC, Big 12, Pac 12, and Big 10. Scouts in the NFL are continuously watching these players to see who they should draft. 

The NFL draft is the culmination of all the players, coaches, and front offices’ work. Teams can go from a bottom tier team to a top tier team with just a few selections. Every player is expected to perform no matter what round they are picked in. The front offices and coaches select players from the war room. When it’s time, players get their names called and are officially drafted. Even if a player does not get drafted, they can get signed to a team as an undrafted free agent.

NFL draftees are not guaranteed to stay in the league, but their dreams come true during the draft.


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