As one of the most crucial annual events in the American sporting calendar, last week saw thousands cram into New York's Radio City Music Hall for the three-day NFL Draft. A sports PR phenomenon, months of hype, speculation and rumour culminated on Saturday when the 32 franchises took their pick of college football's most coveted talent. Though a spectacle Stateside, in the UK, where the round ball dominates, the draft can be a bit bewildering. As a sports agency specializing in sport PR we take pride in understanding the ins and outs of every facet of every game; even if this means doing some research. So here's our guide to the NFL draft.
1. There are 32 franchises spread across the NFL's American Football Conference and National Football Conference.
2. All 32 teams are ranked on their win-loss record the previous season. The worst performing side of last year gets first pick and the Super Bowl champions select last. This allows the poorest sides to select the best players and keeps the league fair.
3. The majority of players are selected from America's college football system although some are also picked from the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League, the NFL's indoor alternative.
4. The draft operates on a 'timed round' system with each franchise receiving one pick per round for seven rounds. In Round One teams have ten minutes to choose its player, dropping to seven minutes in Round Two and five minutes in rounds three to seven. Franchises can still select after its time is up but the next team can pick before them, potentially stealing a player.
5. Though 224 players are selected over the seven rounds, 32 compulsory picks are additionally available. These are awarded depending on how many free agents a team lost and gained the previous year. Franchises that gained and lost the same number but who lost better players, also receive an extra selection. The order of picks depends on a number of factors including salary, playing time and post-season honors.
6. With each player predicted a round for selection, teams can trade picks amongst one another in the hope its desired player will be available on its turn. As a result franchises may have multiple or no picks at all in a given round.
7. The first player selected generally receives the biggest contract although this varies by position - invariably quarterbacks earn more than defensive linemen.
8. The NFL allocates a sum of money taken from each team's salary cap to sign its draftees for the first season. Each pick is assigned a certain value, meaning franchises that have more or earlier picks spend larger amounts.