How the NFL Draft Has Evolved Over Time
The NFL draft is one of the most important events in American football. It is the process by which teams select new players to join their ranks, and it can have a major impact on a team’s fortunes for years to come.
The Draft has been through several changes since it was first introduced in 1936. In the early years, teams would simply take turns selecting players in order of their finish in the previous season. This led to some teams having a significant advantage over others, as the best teams would often be able to select the best players.
Eventually, a lottery system was introduced to give all teams an equal chance at the top pick. This system is still in place today, though it has been tweaked several times over the years.
One of the most recent change to the Draft came in 2013, when the NFL decided to move the event from April to May. This was done in order to avoid conflicting with other major sporting events, such as the NBA and NHL playoffs.
Despite all of these changes, the NFL draft remains one of the most anticipated events on the American sports calendar. Every year, millions of fans tune in to see which players their favorite teams will select. And for many young athletes, the Draft is the first step on their journey to becoming a professional football player.
Out with the Old, in with the New
The NFL Draft saw a major overhaul in 2020. For the first time in its history, the event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All 32 teams were represented via video conference calls, with team personnel monitoring from their homes or offices.
Most of the action took place in Roger Goodell’s basement, where the NFL Commissioner announced each pick. This was a far cry from the usual pomp and circumstance of the Draft, which is typically held in front of a live audience of thousands of fans.
Despite the lack of crowds, the 2020 NFL Draft was still a huge success. A record-breaking 55 million people tuned in to watch the first round, which was the most-watched NFL draft ever. Moreover, viewership was more than 16 percent higher than in the previous year of 2019.
The biggest change, however, came in the form of eligibility. In the past, only players who had completed their college eligibility were eligible for the Draft. But in 2020, that rule was changed to allow any player who is at least three years removed from high school to declare for the Draft.
This change meant that a number of high-profile players, such as Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, were eligible for the 2020 draft. As a result, the event was one of the most highly-anticipated drafts in recent memory.
And while the virtual format was certainly different, the 2020 NFL Draft still provided plenty of drama and excitement. When it was all said and done, 254 players were selected over seven rounds. And for many of them, their NFL dreams had finally come true.
Notable Draftees over the Years
The Draft has seen some of the all-time greats enter the league. Players like Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Tom Brady, and Reggie White were all drafted in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
More recently, players like J.J. Watt, Odell Beckham Jr., and Aaron Donald have been taken in the first round of the Draft. All three of these players have already established themselves as some of the best in the league, and they are sure to have long and successful careers.
The 2023 NFL Draft will surely add a few more names to this list of all-time greats. And with the event moving to a new, more inclusive format, it is sure to be one of the most exciting drafts in recent memory. So make sure to tune in and see who your favorite team selects. It promises to be a can’t-miss event.
Looking to the Future
It remains to be seen what changes will be made to the NFL Draft in future years. With the advancements in technology and the changes made to much of the world post-pandemic, it’s possible that the event could be held entirely online.
It’s also possible that the event could return to its traditional format, with fans in attendance and picks being announced live on stage. Only time will tell what the future holds for the NFL Draft.
But one thing is for sure: the NFL Draft is an event that always manages to capture the attention of the American public. So regardless of how it looks or feels, the Draft will likely continue to be must-see TV for years to come, regardless of which format it’s on in the coming years.