Every year, the NFL Draft is one of the most exciting events on any football fan’s calendar. It’s a time when teams around the league carefully analyze hundreds of players and make calculated decisions to improve their rosters for years to come.
Each team holds its breath in hopes that they’ve selected the next star player or franchise quarterback while potential draftees anxiously wait to hear their name called by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Whether you’re an avid NFL fan or just getting started with understanding the process, here’s everything you need to know about how it all works – so make sure you keep reading!
Understanding the Draft Order and Process
The draft order is determined through a combination of several processes. For the first round, teams with lower winning percentages from the previous season are awarded the earliest picks and given an opportunity to select the best talent from college or other professional rosters.
Further picks in rounds two to seven are also based on winning percentage. However, teams that advance further into playoffs receive later-round picks than non-playoff teams with similarly low records. After all players for each franchise have been selected, individual trades between teams may be made if both teams’ front offices can agree to the terms.
So while many fans traditionally speculate who will go where throughout the draft process, there are many underlying facets that determine how a team is able to form its roster at the end of the day.
In some ways, the NFL Draft is a sort of “second chance” for players who may have been overlooked or undervalued in college. Given that teams around the league are looking to bolster their rosters with the best talent available, there’s no better time than during the draft process to showcase your skills and make an impact!
How Teams Prepare for the Draft
It takes a lot of time, dedication, and strategy for teams to make the most out of their draft selections. Teams typically assemble scouting services and hire personnel who are well-versed in evaluating talent from college or other professional leagues.
Additionally, teams may look at physical measurements such as height, weight, and 40-yard dash times to help them measure the potential “upside” of each player they consider drafting. Throughout the season, scouts may visit games to evaluate players’ performances in person while also consulting with coaches and trainers on how an individual might fit into the system.
Ultimately, teams strive to create a roster that is balanced between both veteran experience and young enthusiasm – so they want to make sure they put together a team that can thrive for years to come.
Types of Players Selected in the Draft
Teams usually have specific needs in mind when making their choices, which can include selecting veteran players with proven skill sets or rookies with high potential for growth. In particular, teams tend to focus on four types of players:
Selecting offensive talent is one of the most important aspects of the draft process. Teams look for players who have the ability to make an immediate impact on their offense, like quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. These players typically have a strong combination of speed, strength, and agility, along with the ability to make big plays on the field.
The defense often has just as much importance as the offense in football games. Teams will look for defenders who can shut down opposing offenses and keep them off-balance. This includes defensive linemen that are quick off the line and able to get into the backfield; linebackers that can tackle effectively and disrupt plays; cornerbacks who can lock down receivers; and safeties with good ball skills to help create turnovers.
While they may not be as glamorous as other positions on the team, specialists play an essential role in any game plan. Kickers, punters, and long snappers are all vital components of any roster since they’re relied upon for crucial plays such as scoring extra points or forming a wall during return attempts. Teams also use specialist draft picks for returning men or gunners who give them a competitive edge in special teams’ play.
The offensive line may not always be glamorous, but it’s essential when it comes to protecting your quarterback and creating running lanes for your running backs. Teams search for linemen who can keep their quarterback safe while also being strong enough to hold up against opposing defenses’ pass rushes. More often than not, they come out winners in these draft scenarios due to their sheer size advantage over other positions.
Trades and Other Strategies Used During the Draft
Teams may use trades to move up or down in the draft order, depending on their desired player or desired picks. For instance, a team may surrender a late-round draft pick in exchange for moving up in order to select a player they feel will vastly improve their roster. This is known as a “draft day trade.” Teams can also package multiple picks together to form a “trade package” in an effort to move up higher in the order.
Additionally, some teams may opt to sign players from outside of the draft altogether, utilizing free agency and signing them away from other teams.
In addition to trades and signings, teams may also employ strategies such as “drafting for need” or “drafting for depth.” The former involves selecting players who fill immediate needs on the team, while the latter involves selecting players with high potential but who aren’t expected to contribute right away.
What Happens After a Player Is Drafted
Once a player is drafted, they typically go through a period of orientation with their new team. This includes physicals, meetings with coaches and front-office personnel, and getting acquainted with the team’s playbook. After that, they join the rest of their teammates on the field for organized practices and preseason games in order to prepare for the upcoming season. During this time, players must show off their skills while competing against fellow rookies and veterans alike in order to make the final roster.
After making it through training camp and preseason play, rookies then enter their first regular season as members of their respective teams. From there, all that’s left for them to do is compete at an elite level every week in order to help their team win games and achieve success.
The Bottom Line
The NFL Draft is an important process that allows teams to build the best roster possible each year. Teams must weigh multiple factors when selecting players, such as talent level, potential upside, and need at a given position. No matter what strategies they employ during the draft process, the goal remains the same: select players who can help take their teams to new heights of success.