When the last seconds of the Super Bowl, the season finale of the American football league NFL, have elapsed in February, when the winners raise the coveted Vince Lombardi trophy to the sky and the last bits of confetti have rained on the lawn, that's when football fans begin a long half year of waiting.

Six months – that's how long the NFL is pausing until the league starts playing again in September.

But the followers in the USA and the constantly growing fan community all over the world don't have to hold out that long.

Because in the middle of the football-free time, the off-season, an event takes place that has become a major media event in American football under loud advertising drumming from the league: the NFL draft.

But what is the draft anyway and what is it about?

Simon Husgen

Editor on duty at FAZ.NET.

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What is the draft about?

Unlike in European football, which is mostly organized as a club even in the amateur field, young athletes in the USA are trained in particular at high schools and colleges, i.e. in the school sector.

Through talent training, the so-called drafts, the most promising talents from the colleges are finally selected by the professional teams and thus make their way into professional sports.

These drafts take place annually.

They are not only found in American football, but also in American ice hockey (NHL), basketball (NBA), baseball (MLB) and US soccer (MLS).

NFL football teams have three basic ways of attracting new players to their team: they can sign out-of-contract players, bring players into their team through exchanges with other NFL teams – so-called trades – or select promising talent in the draft.

The teams can choose from a pool of college players in a fixed order in a total of seven rounds.

How does the draft work?

Since its inception in 1936, the National Football League (NFL) has pursued the declared goal of increasing equal opportunities in the American elite football league with the draft.

Because of this, the order in which teams make their selections is based on how teams performed last season.

The team with the worst win-loss ratio gets the first pick in the following draft, so it gets to choose a player first.

The winner of the Super Bowl has the last turn of the 32 NFL teams.

This order applies in principle in each of the seven rounds.

However, teams have the option to trade their picks in exchange for players and/or better placement in the current or future drafts.

So it can happen that one team does not have a pick at all during a round, while another team can choose several times.

The current Super Bowl winner, the Los Angeles Rams, for example, doesn't have a pick in the first round of this year's draft because he traded it (as well as the 2023 first-round pick, the 2021 third-round pick and their then-quarterback Jared Goff) for quarterback Matthew Stafford gave to the Detroit Lions.

These so-called trades can take place before the draft as well as during the event.