10 Facts About the NFL Draft


Every year, all 32 franchises in the National Football League take part in what is known as the NFL Draft, an annual Player Selection Meeting where professional teams recruit players from college football programs. The very first draft was held in 1936, and it’s occurred every year since.

Over the years, the number of rounds and total number of selections has changed, but the concept remains the same, in that for each year, each franchise is given one selection in each round. Teams are free to trade these selections to other franchises, and today, the draft order is determined in order of the worst team in the league to the Super Bowl winner.

The 2021 NFL Draft will take place from April 29 through May 1, and will feature 259 selections, which is up from 255 player selections in 2020. This year, the teams selecting in the top five of the first round include the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, and Cincinnati Bengals. Read on for more facts about the NFL Draft.

Here are ten fascinating NFL Draft facts that you may not have known:

  1. The first ever draft pick was Jay Berwanger in 1936, and he never played in the NFL. (source) The Philadelphia Eagles had the first overall selection in the 1936 draft, and used the pick on Jay Berwanger out of the University of Chicago. Berwanger is not only the first player to ever be selected in the NFL Draft, but is also the first-ever winner of the Heisman Trophy. Despite being the first overall selection, Jay Berwanger never played in the NFL, as pro football wasn’t a lucrative career at the time. He would ultimately take a job with a Chicago rubber company.

  2. Since 1999, the Cleveland Browns have had the first overall selection four times, the most in the NFL. (source) The Browns had the top pick in 1999, 2000, 2017, and 2018. Not only have they had it four times in the last couple of decades, but the Cleveland Browns are the only franchise in NFL history that have had the first overall selection in back-to-back years on two separate occasions.

  3. Three teams have never held the #1 pick in the NFL Draft. (source) The Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens are the only three NFL franchises that have never had the number one overall selection in the NFL Draft. Every team around the league has had some unfavorable seasons, but these three teams have never been bad enough to obtain the first selection.

  4. It’s been 25 years since no Quarterback was selected in Round One. (source) The 1996 NFL Draft marked the last time that no Quarterbacks were selected in the first round, with the first signal caller taken was Michigan State’s Tony Banks, selected by the Rams with the 42nd overall pick. Tony Banks would have a 10-year NFL career, spending time with the St. Louis Rams, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Football Team, and Houston Texans.

  5. Not counting recent drafts, only two NFL drafts didn’t have a Hall of Famer selected (1984 and 1992). (source) The 1992 NFL draft was especially lackluster, as the top five selections were Steve Emtman, Quentin Coryatt, Sean Gilbert, Desmond Howard and Terrell Buckley. The draft as a whole had very few players who had productive careers, including Jimmy Smith, Brad Johnson and Darren Woodson.

  6. New York City hosted the draft for fifty straight years (1965 – 2015). (source) The Big Apple was the home of the NFL Draft for so many years, until the National Football League began moving the event around. Since then, the NFL Draft has been held in Chicago (2016), Philadelphia (2017), Arlington (2018), and Nashville (2019).

  7. While the NFL Draft has seven rounds today, that wasn’t always the case. (source) Back in 1975, the NFL Draft consisted of a whopping seventeen rounds. It dropped to twelve rounds a couple of years later in 1977, and it wasn’t until 1994 that it was narrowed down to the seven rounds that we’re familiar with today.

  8. The Colts and Rams have had the NFL Draft’s top selection more than any other teams – seven times each. (source) With five of their seven number one overall selections, the Colts (both in Baltimore and Indianapolis) chose quarterbacks — George Shaw (1955), John Elway (1983), Jeff George (1990), Peyton Manning (1998), and Andrew Luck (2012). Two of these Quarterbacks (Elway and Manning) are Hall of Fame talents.

  9. Eight teams made the playoffs in the same season when they had the first overall pick. (source) If an NFL franchise holds the number one pick, it’s because they weren’t that great on the field that most recent season. However, miracles can happen and teams have gone from holding the top selection to finding themselves in the playoffs. It’s a rare occurrence though, as only eight teams in the history of the NFL have managed this feat.
    • 1968 Minnesota Vikings
    • 1978 Houston Oilers
    • 1982 New England Patriots
    • 1991 Dallas Cowboys
    • 2004 San Diego Chargers
    • 2008 Miami Dolphins
    • 2012 Indianapolis Colts
    • 2013 Kansas City Chiefs

  10. Only 17 undrafted players have ever made the Hall of Fame. (source) Only four undrafted players since 1970 have been enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
    • 1970: Jim Langer – C (Browns, Dolphins, Vikings)
    • 1984: Warren Moon – QB (Oilers, Vikings, Seahawks, Chiefs)
    • 1990: John Randle – DT (Vikings, Seahawks)
    • 1998: Kurt Warner – QB (Rams, Giants, Cardinals)

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