Rules of the NFL Draft: A Look At How The NFL Draft Works

April 23, 2017
NFL Draft Rules

The 2017 NFL Draft is right around the corner. The Draft is set to run from April 27-29, and features several notable college athletes. There is a lot that goes into the NFL Draft, much of which goes unnoticed by the casual fan. Rules govern how the Draft operates, and these rules can affect things from both a league and sports gambling standpoint. Bettors make their picks based on careful analysis, the odds, gut instinct and a variety of other factors. However, the unpredictability of the Draft often shakes things up, leaving those who want to bet on the 2017 NFL draft hopelessly watching as the Draft unfolds.

For starters, there are seven rounds in the NFL Draft and each team gets a pick in all seven rounds. The order is determined by last season’s standings, going from bottom to top. In the 2016-2017 season, the Cleveland Browns had the worst record, so they have the #1 overall pick of the NFL Draft. The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl, so they will be picking last. Draft slots are determined by whether a team made the playoffs, with non-playoff teams being assigned slots 1-20 while playoff teams get slots 21-32. The exact order is determined by the standings at the end of the year. In the off chance that teams have an identical record, the order is determined by the difficulty level of both teams’ schedules. Compensatory picks are given to franchises who lost free agents throughout the year and give those teams a chance to replace their losses. The NFL has the power to assign up to 32 compensatory picks and these picks take place towards the end of the third through seventh round.

During the first round, teams have ten minutes to decide which player they want to choose. This brief window is filled with activity from franchise executives, coaches, agents, analysts and more. Seven minutes are allotted in the second round and four minutes in subsequent rounds. Once the Draft starts is where the real excitement begins.

Draft picks are considered assets and teams have the right to trade those assets before and even during the NFL Draft. This is where sports gambling ties in. Sportsbooks that offer betting lines on the NFL Draft often feature prop bets on certain players being drafted at certain times, the amount of certain positions being drafted and more. Trades alter the odds in that a team’s needs may change if they lose their target or give up draft picks. From a bettor’s standpoint, you may wager on the Browns selecting a quarterback #1 overall, but they could potentially trade their #1 pick for several key players and later-round draft picks. This would throw off the whole line of prop bets, as oddsmakers create betting lines based on certain predictions. If those predictions don’t come true, everything changes. It may sound obvious, but this is why sports betting is so exciting.

All of the real action takes place in the first round, and that ten-minute window can be the most agonizing time for both fans and bettors. All bets are considered final, so bettors can only watch as each pick and trade is made. The 2017 NFL Draft has a lot of promise in terms of the league and for sports betting. Understanding how the Draft works can help you make informed bets, but you should still be wary of the Draft’s unpredictability.

In a related story, Las Vegas bookmakers will for the first time ever allow betting on the NFL draft in 2017.  While the limits will be small, it will certainly add some excitement to the draft this year.