Nfl Draft Rules

Nfl Draft Rules

Draft Picks:

  • Each team gets assigned one draft pick per each of the 7 rounds.
  • 32 additional picks are given out as compensatory selections to teams that qualify.
  • There are a total of 256 draft slots available each year, assuming 32 teams in the National Football League, and no picks have been taken away.

Draft Order:

  • Determination of Draft order for the 32 NFL teams is based on the record and playoff finish by each team in that year.
  • For the teams that did not make the playoffs, order is determined by overall season record, with the worst record picking first.
  • For the teams that made the playoffs, the rest of the picks are ordered by playoff record, with the teams that lose getting lower picks based on which round they were ousted and the Super Bowl winner getting the last pick.
  • For the playoff teams that got eliminated in the same round, their order is determined by regular season record.
  • Overall ties are then broken by strength of schedule, which is a calculation of the combined record of all of a team’s opponents in that year, with divisional opponents counting twice.
  • The next tie breaker would be record against conference opponents and then divisional opponents.
  • Coin flip will occur if tie still exists
  • After the first round, the order is determined by revolving the teams with the same records, with the team that just picked first of the group picking last in the next round.
  • If there is an expansion team, that team will pick first, and if there are two expansion teams, they will flip a coin with one team getting the first pick in the draft and the other in the expansion draft of current players.
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Compensatory Picks:

  • These picks are determined at the league’s annual meeting before the draft and are given to teams that in the previous year’s free agency period have lost more or better free agent players than they gained.
  • This highly confidential formula, created by the NFL Management Council, is based on players’ salaries, playing time, post-season awards, and the net amount of free agents lost versus free agents signed.
  • The maximum amount of picks any team can gain is 4 and they cannot be traded.


  • For the first round, the team picking gets 10 minutes to submit a player’s name to be drafted.
  • 7 minutes in Round 2, and 5 minutes in Rounds 3-7.
  • If the time expires before the pick is submitted, the next team can begin to submit their pick, but the team who’s time expired can still submit their pick at any point
  • Any team’s draft picks can be traded at any time
  • The first round is on Thursday, with Rounds 2 and 3 on the Friday, and Rounds 3-7 on Saturday



  • A player must be out of high school for at least three years to be eligible for the draft.
  • If a player enters the draft but does not sign a contract, that player can be drafted again the following year.
  • If a player does not declare for the draft, but is deemed academically ineligble later on, there is a supplemental draft in the summer that occurs. Teams submit a bid for the round in which they would like to take one of the players, and if their bid is the highest, they will get that player, and lose the subsequent pick the following year.
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  • Each team is alloted a segment of their salary cap to sign their draft picks based on the number and value of all of their draft picks.

Supplemental Draft


  • Teams are divided into 3 groups to formulate a draft order in case of a tiebreaker where two teams submit the equivalent round bids.
  • The first group is comprised of the 10 worst teams according to the previous year records.
  • The worse team is given 32 combinations at the first pick while the next team is given 31 and then the next 30 and so forth.
  • Once the first 10 picks are finalized, the second group is made up of the 10 other non-playoff teams where the team with the worse record in that group is given 22 combinations at the 11th overall position and then the next worse team is given 21 and so forth.
  • Once the first 20 selections are settled, the last group of all playoff teams follows the same process where the lowest ranked playoff team is given 12 combinations and the Super Bowl Champions are rewarded only 1 combination.