NFL Draft 2016: How does it work, what time does it start and what is the first-round order?

A look at how the NFL Draft works ahead of the off-season's biggest event

Jack de Menezes
Thursday 28 April 2016 15:26 BST
The NFL Draft is the biggest event on the off-season calendar
The NFL Draft is the biggest event on the off-season calendar (Getty)

The NFL Draft begins on Thursday night to signal the biggest even in the off-season calendar, with quarterbacks set to dominate the headlines with both the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles trading up in the hope of landing big name entries Jared Goff and Carson Wentz.

However, not everyone may be accustomed to the NFL Draft, despite its increased coverage year-by-year and mass fan interaction – something that will see the Jacksonville Jaguars announce their fifth pick through a fan in London for the second year running.

So what is the NFL Draft and how does it work?

Each of the 32 NFL teams receives a ‘pick’ in each of the seven rounds, meaning they can select seven new players for next season.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces the first-round picks
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces the first-round picks (Getty)

The order of picks is sorted by the team records from last season, with the first 20 filled by those who did not make the play-offs, starting with the worst team and ending with the team that held the best record. The remaining 12 are filled by those who made the play-offs, with the Super Bowl champions, the Denver Broncos, going 32nd and last in each round.

What about trades?

Teams can trade places in any of the Draft rounds by offering other teams picks, players or money. This is known as ‘Trading Up’ and can take place ahead of the Draft as well as during it. Some trades will already have been agreed, with teams able to trade future picks for Drafts in the next few years. One example of this is the Tennessee Titans, who have swapped their No 1 overall pick with the LA Rams in return for a 5th overall pick in this year’s draft, two second-round picks (43 and 45), and a third-rounder (76) in 2016, plus a first and third-round pick in the 2017 Draft.

The NFL Draft takes place at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago for the second consecutive year
The NFL Draft takes place at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago for the second consecutive year (Getty)

When does the Draft start and how long does it last?

The Draft begins at midnight on Thursday and runs for three days until Saturday night. Each team has 10 minutes to make their first-round pick which takes up all of Thursday night/Friday morning, with the second and third round picks taking place on Friday night/Saturday morning with seven minutes on the clock for the second round. Rounds three, four, five and six allow teams five minutes to make their selection, while the seventh round offers just four minutes to make a selection.

What if a team lets the clock expire?

They will still be allowed to take their pick, but the next team is allowed to start their turn and could take the player that the previous team wanted to select.

How do the picks work?

Each team has a table set up in the draft venue, which for the second consecutive year takes place at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. They remain in constant communication with a club’s headquarter, and once a selection has been made they write the player’s name, position and school on a card and give it to an NFL runner. As soon as the runner has the card, the selection is made official and the clock restarts, with the next team informed which player has gone.

The selection is made known via radio to the head table, before it is announced publicly.

What is the Draft first-round order?

1 Los Angeles Rams (from Tennessee)

2 Philadelphia Eagles (from Cleveland)

3 San Diego Chargers

4 Dallas Cowboys

5 Jacksonville Jaguars

6 Baltimore Ravens

7 San Francisco 49ers

8 Cleveland Browns (from Philadephia through Miami)

9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

10 New York Giants

11 Chicago Bears

12 New Orleans Saints

13 Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia)

14 Oakland Raiders

15 Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles)

16 Detroit Lions

17 Atlanta Falcons

18 Indianapolis Colts

19 Buffalo Bills

20 New York Jets

21 Washington Redskins

22 Houston Texans

23 Minnesota Vikings

24 Cincinnati Bengals

25 Pittsburgh Steelers

26 Seattle Seahawks

27 Green Bay Packers

28 Kansas City Chiefs

29 Arizona Cardinals

30 Carolina Panthers

31 Denver Broncos

Note: The New England Patriots have lost their first-round pick at No 29 as part of their punishment for the Deflategate scandal.

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