View Full Version : History of the NFL Draft

03-29-2007, 05:20 AM
In May of 1935, NFL team owners ratified a new system for the recruitment of collegiate prospects that was the original brain child of then-future commissioner Bert Bell. Previous to the draft, teams were free to sign any college prospect that they wished, which often resulted in bidding wars over prospects, which in turn allowed the players to chose their teams, making the upper echelon teams stronger while making lesser teams even weaker. With the inception of the collegiate draft, however, teams with the worst records got to chose first, and the league champion from the previous year selected last.

The first NFL draft was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia on February 8, 1936. 1935 Heisman Trophy winner Jay Berwanger from the University of Chicago was the first pick of the first ever NFL draft. The Philadelphia Eagles selected the halfback, but were unable sign him, and soon after traded his rights to the Chicago Bears. The Bears also weren't able to sign Berwanger, and so the first pick in NFL history never played in the league. The first draft pick to actually play in the NFL was the 1936 second overall selection and Boston Redskins pick, halfback Riley Smith of Alabama.

Another "first" in draft history also belongs to the Chicago Bears, as they selected the first ever player who eventually went on to become a Hall of Famer. The Bears selected Tackle Joe Stydahar from West Virginia with the 6th overall selection in the 1st round. Three other Hall of Fame players drafted in 1936 include Tuffy Leemans (NYG, 2nd round, 18th overall), Wayne Millner (Bos, 8, 65), and Dan Fortman (ChiB, 9, 78). Incidentally, the 6th overall selection from each of the first 3 drafts all wound up in the Hall of Fame.

The draft has been a constantly evolving process throughout the sands of time. In fact, some rules were changed shortly after the very first draft, as the number of rounds was expanded from the original 9 to 10 rounds. This process has incurred many changes over the course of time, but largely remains the same. The number of rounds has expanded and contracted over the history of the draft from the original nine. There have been as many as 30, and as little as the current 7 rounds which are still in place today.

There have been other rule changes and format variations throughout time as well. In 1960 for instance, the NFL conducted a "secret" draft very early in the off-season in anticipation of the start of their then arch rival the AFL. Later on in the 1960's, both leagues drafted players not yet eligible in for the draft (referred to as "futures"). These futures were picked in attempt to prevent the other league's teams from picking players that would become eligible in future years.

Also in the 1960's, the first "expansion" drafts were conducted. These drafts were used to stock expansion teams with players from other teams. Generally, teams were allowed to prevent their best players from getting picked by an expansion team by placing them on the "protected" list. Only non-protected players were eligible for the expansion drafts. Expansion drafts for expansion teams continued through out the 21st century.

With the advent and eventual fall of the United States Football League, NFL teams began utilizing the "supplemental" drafts, which were held AFTER the regular collegiate drafts. The supplemental draft was used to stock NFL rosters with defecting USFL players. Currently, supplemental drafts are used to select collegiate prospects that are not eligible (or did not declare eligibility) for the annual April draft. Participation in the supplemental draft is not required. Any team that picks a player in a supplemental draft forfeits its correlating selection in the next annual college draft.

03-30-2007, 09:04 PM
I guess a thread about the history of the draft is more informative than all the "Don't draft ________ with our #9 because he sucks" ones.

03-30-2007, 09:07 PM
I wonder what would happen if they went to 8,9, or even 10 rounds.
With the 613 pick the Miami Dolphins select Brock Berliln.