NFL draft explained: what is the American football player recruitment event?

The NFL Draft 2021 takes place over three days in Cleveland with the type of razzmatazz fans of the sport have come to expect

This week sees NFL teams look to bolster their rosters for the 2021/22 season with the best new talent the game has to offer.

Hundreds of aspiring professional American football players will find out their feat in the NFL Draft 2021, which runs from 29 April to 1 May.

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This year’s draft will be held in Cleveland with some key personnel in attendance, while others connect to the spectacle remotely through digital platforms.

The NFL Draft is an annual player recruitment process which has been in place since 1936. (Pic: Getty)

First round picks have already seen Trevor Lawrence head to Jacksonville, Zach Wilson to the Jets, Trey Lance to San Francisco and Mac Jones to New England.

Here’s an introductory guide to the NFL draft…

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What is the NFL draft?

The NFL Draft is an annual player recruitment process which has been in place since 1936.

It serves to help National Football League teams add the best new players from across the United States to their rosters for the forthcoming season.

The event has evolved into a spectacle whereby millions of viewers each year tune in to watch which players are selected by which teams and why.

In 2021, the draft is held over three days to allow time for seven rounds of picks to take place - meaning each team has multiple chances to mould their squads.

How does the NFL draft work?

Each team is given a draft placing based on their league record from the previous season.

The order sees the team with the worst record given first pick in the next draft and the Super Bowl winners handed the last pick in the same draft in each round.

Yet this order changes frequently in each round, particularly in rounds two to seven, as each team’s pick can be used in trade negotiations with other teams.

Moreover, team officials only have a certain amount of time to make their decision on who to select, with the allocated time changing each round before the next team makes their choice.

That’s why you might hear the phase: ‘you’re on the clock’.

In round one, teams are given 10 minutes. This changes to seven minutes in round two, five minutes for rounds three to six and four minutes in round seven.

What players are eligible for the NFL draft?

An athlete is eligible to declare themselves available in the NFL draft if they meet certain criteria set by the league.

An athlete must be at the very least three years out of high school to encourage players to attend college for longer and gain an education.

It doesn’t state that a player must attend college but it is widely considered to be part of an individual’s pathway to the NFL, either by attending a US or Canadian college.

The time period an athlete has to declare interest in entering the draft is short, limited to seven days after the end of the College National Championship game.

Once a declaration of interest has been submitted, the NFL will verify the application along with schools, agents and teams to make sure the athlete is eligible.