| February 23, 2018

Column: Opportunity of a lifetime

April 24, 2017

Each team in the National Football League (NFL) is built in the annual seven-round draft that features the best, young talent in the entire country.

All 32 NFL teams draft players based on overall record and in order of playoff elimination — the Super Bowl Champion selects last.

Trades are, however, routine when it comes to NFL draft picks, so don’t be surprised to see a team selecting sooner or later than expected.

Every NFL franchise weighs an incredible amount of importance on the draft, and it seems obvious why. Players are no exception as the draft is equally, if not more, important to them — an opportunity of a lifetime. For a team, the draft is an opportunity to select the next generation of NFL superstars.

Depending on scouts, the team’s needs and general managers, the draft can make or break a franchise. A successful front office will build a team that wins on the field.

Pre-draft meetings and workouts are like the players’ interviews to put their talent on display. If a team finds value, the player’s name will be called on draft day.

The NFL draft is a defining moment for a college football player. However, even if someone’s name is not called on draft day, there is still an opportunity to be signed after the draft. The only downfall: a substantial pay-cut.

First-year player contracts are four years long and cannot be renegotiated until the player has been in the league for three years. Even then, the team that drafted the player has first priority, when signing an extension.

Contracts come loaded with performance bonuses, but a first-year player contract is nothing compared to a long-term extension.

Financially, the draft is important to all NFL franchises because it provides more salary cap space. With more money to spend, a team can target their biggest need in free agency. Not to mention, a player with years of NFL experience offers more certainty for the future to invest.

The NFL draft is three days long and begins April 27, but for the draftees, it’s just the beginning. The player’s next four years will be spent under team control. Then, a team member will either sign an extension or test free agency.

Regardless, it all starts at the NFL draft.

Zack Ozuna can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @OzunaZack21

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