It used to be that the NFL Draft Day would pass with very little fanfare. It was carried out mid-week and the middle of the day to small television audiences. Or no television at all when the draft was as many as 30 rounds in the 1950s and 20 rounds when the AFL was created in 1960.
But at only seven rounds now, each pick carries more weight for a franchise. And the fans care more. Much more. An estimated 600,000 fans attended the draft last season in Nashville, while more than 47 million watched on television.
And it’s not just about which player a fan’s favorite team will take in the first round. It’s about those gems that are uncovered late. Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr was selected 200th overall in 1956. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady was selected 199th in 2000.
The NFL Draft schedule is as follows:
- First round – Thursday, April 23
- Second and third rounds – Friday, April 24
- Fourth through seventh rounds – Saturday, April 25
NFL Draft Order Rules
Assigning where a team picks is easy and straightforward. Picks 1-20 are assigned to non-playoff teams in reverse order of finish. The Cincinnati Bengals are picking first because they finished 2-14 in 2019. The Rams were assigned pick 20 because they were the best team to not make the playoffs.
Picks 21-32 are then determined by postseason finish. The Eagles are picking 21st as the loser in the Wild Card round with the worst record. The Kansas City Chiefs are picking 32nd as the winner of the Super Bowl.
The NFL can also award a total of 32 compensatory picks, and they are not nearly as easy or straightforward to assign. Using their proprietary formula that takes into consideration playing time, salary, and postseason awards, teams will be given picks for the free agents they lost the season before.
The New England Patriots lost seven compensatory free agents in 2019, while only signing one. So they were assigned a league-high four compensatory picks for the 2020 NFL Draft – two following the third round and two more following the sixth round.
All compensatory picks take place at the end of the third through seventh rounds.
Since 2017, compensatory picks can be traded, as can any other draft pick, including for future seasons. That 20th pick that was awarded to the Rams will be used by the Jacksonville Jaguars as compensation for the Jalen Ramsey trade. The Jaguars also own Los Angeles’ first- and fourth-round picks next season because of that trade.
Even though the San Francisco 49ers were the Super Bowl runner-up and pick 31st, they also own the 13th pick as compensation for trading DeForest Buckner to Indianapolis.
Watching the NFL general managers wheel and deal on draft day is one of the more intriguing features of the draft. In 2017, the Chiefs traded up during the first round to select Patrick Mahomes with the 10th pick. Mike Ditka and the New Orleans Saints famously traded away their entire draft to move up to select Ricky Williams in 1999.
And with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow on the board and the Bengals picking first overall, the draft-day trade talk for 2020 is already well underway.
NFL Draft Eligibility Rules
Players are eligible to be drafted if they have been out of high school for at least three years and have exhausted their college eligibility. If players still have college eligibility remaining, either because they are an underclassman or have graduated early, they can petition the NFL to enter the draft within seven days of the end of the college football season.
A total of 99 players who petitioned the league have been granted special eligibility for the 2020 NFL Draft. Players are only eligible for the draft the year after their college eligibility ends.
For players whose eligibility changes after the NFL Draft, the league holds a supplemental draft in July. If teams bid for and are awarded a supplemental pick, they will forfeit the corresponding draft pick in the following year’s regular draft.
NFL Draft Betting
Now that you’ve had the NFL draft explained, you should be better prepared to place your draft day wagers. Will Joe Burrow be selected first overall, as experts think he will?
And how many teams will select a quarterback in the first round? Which college conference will finish the seventh round with the most overall selections?
Just like Super Bowl Sunday, betting on NFL Draft Day is a proposition bettors dream.