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2021 NFL draft: Why are there more than 32 picks in some rounds?

NFL Draft
NFL Draft
Modified 09 Apr 2021

The 2021 NFL draft is just three weeks away, scheduled to take place from April 27th to May 1st, 2021.

The NFL draft consists of seven rounds of 32 picks, with each team in the league awarded one pick in every round. However, the total number of picks for each team varies.

Draft picks are tradeable assets and teams often swap or trade them with other teams in exchange for players or a higher pick in the NFL draft.

Teams also sometimes lose draft picks if found guilty of violating rules by the NFL.

In theory, the NFL draft should end at pick no.224, but each year the number of picks exceeds over 250. So where do these extra picks come from?

Why are there more than 32 picks in some rounds of the NFL Draft?

NFL Draft
NFL Draft

The extra picks are called compensatory picks, which are awarded to teams between rounds three and seven of the NFL draft.

On the official NFL website, it states:

"Under the terms of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, the league also can assign as many as 32 additional “compensatory free agent” picks, which allow clubs that have lost free agents to another team to use the draft to try to fill the void. The awarded picks take place at the end of the third through seventh round.
Compensatory free agents are determined by a proprietary formula, developed by the NFL Management Council, which considers a player’s salary, playing time and postseason honors.
The value of the compensatory free agents gained or lost by each team is totaled, and a team is awarded picks of equal value to the net loss of compensatory free agents, up to a maximum of four."

In short, teams are awarded up to four compensatory picks to help negate the loss of players through free agency. Compensatory picks were untradeable assets until 2017.

Who is the most impactful compensatory pick in NFL history?

The University of Michigan Wolverines vs Ohio State Buckeyes
The University of Michigan Wolverines vs Ohio State Buckeyes

Only a handful of players drafted with a compensatory pick have made a big impact in the NFL. But the greatest player in league history, seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady was once a mere late-round compensatory pick from the New England Patriots.

In the 1999 NFL offseason, the Patriots parted ways with linebacker Todd Collins, defensive tackle Mark Wheeler, offensive lineman Dave Wohlabaugh and punter Tom Tupa. The Patriots were awarded the 127th, 199th, 201st and 231st picks in the 2000 NFL draft as compensation for losing those players in free agency.

The Patriots selected Brady with the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL draft. He was expected to go off the board in the second or third round but had to watch on in disbelief as six other young QBs had their names read out ahead of him.

But it worked out well for Brady as he won six Super Bowl titles in 20 seasons with the New England Patriots.

Published 09 Apr 2021, 04:36 IST
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