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I am a recent NFL enthusiast and have just started following the games but some terminology still stumps me. I understand the draft process in general and know that every year each of the 32 teams get to pick new players over two days with 7 rounds given to each of them. So, when a player is said to be the “first overall pick for a season, does it mean that he was the first one to be drafted by any team for that year? Or does it mean he was just picked in the first (of the seven rounds) round? If each team gets one pick (ideal circumstances), that would mean 32 picks per round. So could the player (said to be the first overall pick) have been picked in any order as long as it’s in the first round or does he have to strictly be the very first pick of the first round?

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2 Answers 2

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Let's take a look at the 2014 NFL Draft for example.

So, when a player is said to be the “first overall pick for a season, does it mean that he was the first one to be drafted by any team for that year? Or does it mean he was just picked in the first (of the seven rounds) round?

The Houston Texans have the first pick in the first round, or the first overall pick. Thus, X will be the first overall pick for this [draft] and he will go to the Houston Texans as the first pick in the first round.

The Houston Texans have the first pick in the second round, or the 33rd overall pick. Thus, X will be the 33rd overall pick for this [draft] and he will go to the Houston Texans as the first pick in the second round.

The draft order does not change round by round, meaning if Houston has the first pick in the first round, they will have the first pick in each of the following rounds. However, a team may trade draft picks with another team for players or other draft picks of another team.

If each team gets one pick (ideal circumstances), that would mean 32 picks per round

Not exactly.

Compensatory selections are made starting at the end of the third round. Teams who gets these picks based on how they did during free agency (the # of players lost to free agency vs. the # of players signed from free agency).

So could the player (said to be the first overall pick) have been picked in any order as long as it’s in the first round or does he have to strictly be the very first pick of the first round?

He doesn't have to strictly be the very first pick...nor second, nor third, nor fourth, nor fifth, nor sixth...nor seventh. He doesn't even have to be selected in the first round.

This is based on team needs, personnel, and best available (determined by the NFL combine, pro days, and how his collegiate performance may translate into the NFL). Mock drafts attempt to predict this phenomenon.

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If there are 32 teams and 7 draft rounds, there are 32*7 or 224 overall picks. That is, picks 1-32 take plac3 in the first round, 33-64 in the second, 65-96 in the third, 97-128 in the fourth, 129-160 in the fifth, 161-192 in the sixth, and 193-224 in the seventh. The first "overall" pick is the first of 224, that is the first pick in the first round.

Each team's first round pick is likely to be better than the seventh round pick (barring "surprises" and "latebloomers.") But within the first round, number 1 is likely to be way better than number 32. Which is why the team with the worst record from the previous year gets to pick first. Unless it has traded away its pick, or lost it to another team for signing away one of its free agents (not likely).

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So, why was the final pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the 256th pick? Also, would you say the 1st pick of the 2000 NFL draft was "way better" than the 199th pick? Why would the 1st pick "likely to be way better" than the 32nd pick? –  edmastermind29 May 12 at 18:07
    
@edmastermind29: There were something like 32 draft picks traded by teams for other picks or players. The "receiving" teams got higher numbered draft picks, while the "yielding" teams got "blanks" for their draft picks. The outlier distribution of top athlete abilities (e.g., in the Grand Slam), is that the best is likely to be way better than the 50th or 100th There is usually a consensus of ranks but sometimes players slip through the cracks. Mike Trout, objectively number 1 in his class, was selected as number 25 overall (passed over by 24 teams), at a stage where players usually decline. –  Tom Au May 13 at 21:50
    
Was Mike Trout #1 in his class before his stellar MLB play thus far (ie, in scouting reports and such)? –  edmastermind29 May 14 at 13:10
    
@edmastermind29: That's the point. "Occasionally," someone falls through the cracks. Trout was number 1 "ex post." Usually that translates tightly into, say, "top five" ex ante, but there's always the exception to the rule. Normally, a 20-something first round pick is someone like Kolten Wong, an obvious talent who nevertheless (so far) has had "teething problems" in the majors. –  Tom Au May 14 at 13:33
    
Yes. Those who fall through the cracks end up being an incredible steal for the team who ends up selecting him. However, work ethic, character, expectations, and to a lesser degree, management seem to be the reason why those who are viewed as exceptional talents, and are selected high, under perform. –  edmastermind29 May 14 at 13:41

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