This is my 62-year old roomate, Hans. He’s a Vietnam Vet and avid skier who has asked me to teach him about football, so in the event that you need to help someone learn the basics of football or maybe catch up on a few things you missed, I’ll post here. These won’t be so detailed that you can’t understand. Expect an easy read.
Episode 2: The Draft
The NFL Draft is where all 32 teams in the NFL gather together and take turns drafting the available players from the college ranks. You can play 3 years or accrue 3 years, with some being off the field, as in “redshirting”. Once deemed draft-eligible, you then go through mounds of off-season work to either change minds or re-enforce opinions. At the draft, teams go about deciding who their future will be on a turn-based scale and they call the player before the pick to let them know.
As long as you have 3 years of college, then you can be drafted. Some have only two years worth of stats, but get drafted anyway, this is due to redshirting. Redshirting can occur for a few reasons, we’ll discuss the main two. First, if you have an injury very early in the season or possibly before the season starts, you are granted a medical redshirt. The second main reason that you could be redshirted is due to development. For instance, if a team has two amazing quarterbacks that are older and they just signed a quarterback that they think will be amazing, but he is only 17 or 18 years old, they would normally redshirt him. The purpose is that he gets to develop for a year without using a year of eligibility. At the end of the year, when the older quarterbacks are done with their 4 years of eligibility, the young guy can start playing….for 4 more years. It really helps a lot of teams, but keep in mind that he can turn pro after his sophomore season, due to being in college for 3 years. So, the risk is that the team may only have the guy playing for 2 years, but he would have to be a superstar for this to happen and it rarely happens that a guy is good enough to go to the NFL with only 2 years of playing experience. The most obvious example, off the top of my head, is Michael Crabtree. Crabtree was drafted as the 10th best player in the country to the San Francisco 49ers 2 years ago. He won a trophy for being the best wide receiver (WR) in football for both of the years he played. He only played two before going to the NFl, but was allowed to do so since he was redshirted his freshman season of college. This was due to a position switch, he played quarterback in high school and they moved him to wide receiver for college. The school thought that the redshirt would help his development. Apparently, they were right.
The off-season process can best be described as organized chaos. Players will typically be found doing special types of games, such as the Senior Bowl (a game for all the seniors in the nation to play against each other in front of NFL Scouts) and Texas vs The Nation (Texas stand-outs that are leaving college for the draft play against stand-outs from across the nation). After this, players go through rigorous training so that they will perform well in drills. Different types of drills are done in front of NFL Coaches, Scouts, and front office personnel at the NFL Combine. All players will be given the opportunity to participate in things such as a 40-yard dash–to test both speed and quickness, the bench press–to test strength, and cone drills–these are more speed and agility. Quarterbacks will throw the ball to receivers they have never thrown to. Lineman will do linemen drills, wide receivers will catch the ball, defensive backs will cover air…..all sorts of things happen and most of them are meaningless, except the medical checks. All players are required to go through a series of medical checks that would make the army jealous. They are poked and prodded and x-rayed for hours. If found to be unhealthy in any way, the players come back for a re-check. A situation this past year involving the re-check got dramatic. A defensive lineman from Clemson had a knee issue. This particular player, Da’Quan Bowers, was initially judged to be drafted as the best player in the country, meaning he would be taken first overall. Bowers had a slight knee issue–they said. When at the NFL Combine, it was discovered Bowers had a bad knee issue. I believe somewhere around then, either before or slightly afterward, Bowers had surgery. At the re-check, the actual info was seemingly kept secretive, but there were reports that he may be done playing football due to the injury and there were reports saying he would be alright in a few months. Bowers was drafted somewhere around 45-60th overall. Quite the affect an injury can have. If nothing else, he lost a lot of $$$$$$$$$.
The draft order is consistent. If you win the championship, the Super Bowl, then you draft last in every round–32nd. If you are the worst team, then you are first in every round. There are seven rounds and each team gets a pick in each round. Trades can be had so that the picks swap around. For instance, if you draft before me and I want your pick, I can trade my pick, or my picks or my players or some combination of both to move up to get your pick. We both have to agree and let the NFL office know ahead of time. If we don’t let them know, it doesn’t happen. That happened this year between Baltimore and Kansas City in the first round.
There are also compensatory selections. If you have a very effective player’s contract expire and you don’t re-sign them to your team, then they leave in free agency. Depending on the effectiveness of the player and the size of the contract they sign with another team, you will get a compensatory selection in the draft the next year. These selections occur anywhere from the 3rd to the 7th round. Keep in mind the 7th round is the last round and that these picks are always at the end of the round. Also, they cannot be traded.
Hope you learned something.