Find Out What the Time Limits for Each Round of the NFL Draft Is

Close up of football stitching
What are the rules governing each round of the NFL Draft. Tetra Images / Getty Images

The National Football League Draft, also known as the Player Selection Meeting, is an event that meets every year when the NFL selects college football players that are eligible for recruitment. The rationale behind the draft is to create competition between teams in order to pick the best players. The original creation of the draft occurred in 1936 and its methodology remains mostly the same today.

However, in earlier years, many players were picked from media and hearsay, and eventually hired scouts.

A Brief History of the Draft

The first draft for the NFL happened at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia. The draft included 90 names, written on a blackboard, and nine rounds. After the scouting era (1946-1959), technology and the digital age entered with broadcast coverage on ESPN. In 1980, TV ratings increased dramatically, and three-day drafts were introduced in 2010.

Almost all players involved in the NFL draft have participated in college football, however, there are no official rules stating that a player has to attend college. Some players are selected from football leagues like the Arena Football League (AFL) or German Football League (GFL) and a tiny amount of players were drafted from schools that involved them in sports other than football.

Time Limits by Round

Each round of the NFL Draft has a limit of time each team may use to make their selection.

If a team fails to make their selection in the allotted time, the team that is scheduled to select next may move ahead of the "tardy" team by turning in their draft pick first.

The following time limits are enforced:

  • Round 1: 10 minutes
  • Round 2: 7 minutes
  • Round 3: 5 minutes
  • Round 4: 5 minutes
  • Round 5: 5 minutes
  • Round 6: 5 minutes
  • Round 7: 5 minutes

Additional Rules and Processes of the Draft

Representatives attend the draft for every team, and during the draft, at least a singular team is always "on the clock." Before and during the draft, teams are allowed to negotiate players in any round. Teams can also give up their right to pick in a round, in order for them to pick later, which means it's possible for teams to have zero or several choices in a round.

Salaries are allotted to each NFL team. Teams with more or earlier picks will have a higher allotted salary. For example, in 2008, the Kansas City Chiefs had 12 picks, which gave them a huge amount of $8.22 million. The lowest was 1.29 million with only five picks for the Cleveland Brown. This is decided by several agreements between the NFL and the National Football League Players Association.

Before the draft, there are several processes in place. First, the NFL Draft Advisory Board gathers to make predictions about the rounds and players. The board includes scouting experts and team executives who have a history of providing guidance on whether players should be drafted or continue to play college​ football. Following this, there is an NFL Scouting Combine and a Pro Day to test the skills of college football players, create interest, and determine performance.