Catherine Yang | Daily Trojan
NFL Draft eligibilityThe rules for player eligibility in the NFL Draft are relatively simple. In order to be eligible for the NFL Draft, a player must be at least three years removed from high school. That means a college football player is eligible to enter the NFL Draft after his junior season or, in some cases, his redshirt sophomore season. These underclassmen must apply for approval to enter the NFL Draft (reviewed by the NFL’s player personnel staff), and they have until seven days after the college football national championship game to do so.As for seniors who enter the NFL Draft, they are only eligible in the year after the end of their college eligibility.From the NFL: “Once players have become draft-eligible or have declared their intention to enter the draft early, the (NFL) player personnel staff works with teams, agents and schools to clarify the players’ status. They also work with agents, schools, scouts and teams to enforce league rules for pro days and private workouts.”During the draft, (NFL) player personnel staff confirms that all players who are drafted are draft-eligible.”What are compensatory picks in the NFL Draft?Compensatory NFL Draft picks have been around since 1994. They aim to — you guessed it — compensate. Compensatory picks allow NFL teams who lost free agents to others teams in the previous year to, yep, compensate for those losses with additional NFL Draft picks. Compensatory picks are awarded on the back ends of the third, fourth, firth, sixth and seventh rounds, and up to 32 can be awarded each year.No team can receive more than four compensatory NFL Draft picks in a given year. If a team qualifies for more than four compensatory picks, it will receive the four highest possible picks.The formula the NFL uses to award compensatory draft picks has never been made public. (SN contributor and salary-cap expert Jason Fitzgerald came up with the basics and methodology for predicting them.) According to the NFL, the formula is based on “salary, playing time and postseason honors.”Only what the NFL calls compensatory free agents, not every free agent lost or signed by another team, are covered by this mystery formula. A team that loses more (or better) compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks.This year, the Ravens, Bengals, Colts, Rams, Giants and 49ers qualified for compensatory picks under the formula, but they didn’t get them because, as the NFL states, “the final numerical values of the compensatory free agents who were lost by those clubs ranked 33rd through 39th among the final numerical values of all compensatory selections. Each of those six clubs will receive compensatory selections for other compensatory free agents lost whose final numerical values ranked within the top 32.”A list of the compensatory picks that were awarded for the 2019 NFL Draft can be found here.How many NFL Draft picks does each team have?Depends. To explain, we refer to the draft-pick allotment breakdown referenced above. As a baseline, each of the 32 teams receives one pick in each of the seven rounds in the NFL Draft. In addition to those picks, the NFL can assign as many as 32 compensatory picks throughout the league at the end of the third through seventh rounds. All of these picks are eligible to be traded, and trades often impact the amount of picks with which a given team enters an NFL Draft.Because some teams receive compensatory picks and others don’t, and because teams often package multiple draft picks in trades, one team might enter the NFL Draft with, say, 12 selections at its disposal, and another might enter the draft with only six.The complete NFL Draft pick order for all 32 teams in 2019 can be found here. The 2019 NFL Draft is here, and it arrives with the same, pesky question that football fans of all ages and levels of passion understandably ask every spring. It’s a question that even the most die-hard of NFL fans finds his or her self pondering when the NFL Draft’s time on the league’s offseason schedule arrives.How exactly does the NFL Draft work? MORE: Everything to know about the 2019 NFL Draft in NashvilleThe persistence of this question is rooted in the fact that the NFL Draft has been an evolving and growing since 1936, when the first NFL Draft was held at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia. For example, the event that at one point included 30 rounds is now down to seven rounds. Yet the shrinking format of the NFL Draft over the years has come with an explosion of popularity.For years, the NFL Draft was held largely behind the scenes, almost always inside hotel banquet rooms. Now, the NFL Draft is less of a private business operation and more of a traveling circus. What is now a made-for-TV event will be shown in its entirety on broadcast television in 2019, when ABC will carry the whole NFL Draft with the help of ESPN. The NFL Draft will also take over downtown Nashville in 2019, like it did in Dallas last year and in Philadelphia the year before that.Evolving alongside the size and scope of the NFL Draft have been its rules. For example, two years ago, teams were allowed to trade compensatory draft picks for the first time.Wait. What are compensatory draft picks, again? How do teams get them? Are there any restrictions at all on draft trades?All fair questions. Here is a refresher on how the NFL Draft works in 2019.SN’s NFL DRAFT HQ:Day 2 winners & losers | Best available | Pick trackerHow does the NFL Draft work?NFL Draft rulesLet’s start with the basics. There are seven rounds in the NFL Draft; Round 1 is Thursday (April 25), Rounds 2-3 are Friday (April 26) and Rounds 4-7 are Saturday (April 27.) Every team is represented at the NFL Draft with differing amounts of selections with which to work.As a baseline, each of the 32 teams receives one pick in each of the seven rounds in the NFL Draft. In addition to those picks, the NFL months before the draft can assign as many as 32 compensatory picks at the end of the third through seventh rounds. All of these picks are eligible to be traded. Because some teams receive compensatory picks and others don’t (more on this later), and because teams often package multiple draft picks in trades, one team might enter the NFL Draft with, say, 12 selections at its disposal, and another might enter the draft with only six.MORE: Complete list of picks for all 32 teams in 2019 NFL DraftThe order of NFL Draft picks is determined by the previous season’s final standings; the worst team gets the first pick in each round, and the Super Bowl winner gets the last pick in each round. For teams that finished the previous season with the same records, the tiebreaker is strength of schedule (win percentage of opponents). If that percentage is the same, the next tiebreakers are division and conference records. And if they’re still tied after that, the following is the tiebreaking method (via the NFL):Head-to-head (if applicable)Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games (minimum of four)Strength of victory in all gamesBest combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed in all gamesBest net points in all gamesBest net touchdowns in all gamesCoin tossFor the selection process, each team deploys representatives at the NFL Draft venue, which this year is in Nashville, in order to maintain communication with its leadership back at what most teams call their draft war room. When a team decides on a pick, its decision-makers inform the reps at the draft. One of those reps writes the player’s name, position and school on a card, which is handed to a runner. At that point, the pick is officially in.What happens next, courtesy of NFL Operations:”A second runner goes to the representatives of the team up next and lets them know who was chosen. Upon receiving the card, the first runner immediately radios the selection to an NFL player personnel representative, who inputs the player’s name into a database that notifies all clubs of the pick. The runner also walks the card to the head table, where it’s given to Ken Fiore, vice president of player personnel.”Fiore reviews the name for accuracy and records the pick. He then shares the name with the NFL’s broadcast partners, the commissioner and other league or team representatives so they can announce the pick.”In the event of a trade, which is allowed to be negotiated at any point before and during the draft and can include any future picks or current players, both teams must call the head table after the deal has been agreed upon. In order for the trade to be approved, each team has to provide the same trade information.The selection process repeats itself 256 times — that’s how many picks are in a typical NFL Draft these days, although the 2019 NFL Draft features only 254 picks; the Redskins and Giants each forfeited one of their picks.MORE NFL DRAFT: Top 100 prospects in the 2019 classIn the first round of the NFL Draft, teams get 10 minutes to make each pick. In the second round, the time between each selection drops to seven minutes. In Rounds 3-6, teams get only five minutes to make their picks, and in Round 7, they get just four minutes.If a team fails to make a pick in the allotted time, it is not necessarily out of luck … unless the next team on the clock makes a pick quickly.More explanation from the NFL on “passing”:”If Club A does not select a player within its time allotment, it is deemed to have passed. A runner is also assigned to the table of the club (Club B) that is next in the selection order. If a pass occurs, Club B is permitted to select a player by handing an official selection card to the runner at its table.”While Club A has passed, it has not forfeited its right to select a player and may re-enter the draft at any point. If Club A hands an official selection card to the runner who has remained at its table before Club B makes a selection, Club A’s selection is valid. League officials at the head table will watch both tables in such a situation to determine which selection is made first, and the decision of the league officials is final.”If a club representative decides to walk the selection card to the head table, the fact that the representative reaches the head table with a selection card before the arrival of the runner is immaterial, since the selection of the club represented by the runner was valid as soon as the runner received the club’s selection card.”Got it? Good.How many rounds are in the NFL Draft?There are seven rounds in the NFL Draft.In the first round, which this year takes place Thursday, April 25 and starts at 8 p.m. ET, teams are given 10 minutes to make each pick. The second and third rounds this year take place Friday, April 26, beginning with the top of Round 2 at 7 p.m. ET. Rounds 4-7 are scheduled for Saturday, April 27, with the top of the fourth round beginning at noon ET.In the second round, teams get just seven minutes to make each pick. In Rounds 3-6, they get five minutes, and in Round seven, they get only four.Below is the breakdown.RoundDayTime for each pickRound 1Thursday10 minutesRound 2Friday7 minutesRound 3Friday5 minutesRound 4Saturday5 minutesRound 5Saturday5 minutesRound 6Saturday5 minutesRound 7Saturday4 minutesMORE: TV, live stream info for 2019 NFL DraftHow long is the NFL Draft?The NFL Draft is more of a marathon than a sprint. It lasts three days, and if you do the math — the time permitted between each pick in each round, multiplied by 256 picks — you’ll get a feel for the crazy amount of hours the selection process consumes.The NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 25 with the start of the first round at 8 p.m. ET. The end of the NFL Draft, after all seven rounds and all three days, typically arrives sometime between 6-7 p.m. ET on Saturday.Those who are watching the draft on TV can expect the first-round broadcast to last roughly three hours and end around 11 p.m. ET. On Day 2, when Rounds 2-3 will be completed, the broadcast that starts at 7 p.m. ET will last roughly four hours, also ending around 11 p.m. ET. Day 3, which begins at noon with the top of the fourth round, typically lasts six to seven hours.That’s three days and roughly 14 hours of NFL teams being on the clock in the NFL Draft.Of course, this doesn’t include the year-round preparation on the part of each team’s scouting and personnel staffs. In that regard, one could argue the NFL Draft never ends.