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How Do Teams Get Into the NFL

   How Do Teams Get Into the NFL

August 25, 2021

Understanding the NFL.

We all love the NFL, and with football season starting up again, we cannot wait to get back into it. While we all love it when football season comes around, so few of us actually know the background to this epic sport. Things such as how it came into being, how the teams got picked, and how players are drafted.

These are all things that are key to making the NFL amazing and crafting incredible NFL teams, but so many fans are oblivious to this knowledge. So, let’s answer some of these questions for you.

First we have to note that there are 32 teams in the NFL, they are split between two conferences the AFC and NFC, which we will talk about more later.

Players are picked for teams by drafting, which we will later discuss at length, and so teams get into the NFL through one of the two conferences, and the players for these teams are picked by the NFL by drafting college football players. It's as simple as that, well, sort of. There is much about the process that is complex, but the premise of how teams and players get into the NFL is pretty basic at its core.

The two conferences.

Let's talk about the conferences. The 32 teams that make up the NFL are split between the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Each conference is then broken down into 4 divisions; North, East, South, and West. And then each division has 4 teams, they play each other twice a year, in one home game and then in one away game. These instra-division teams have some of the most major rivalries in the sport as they play each other regularly.

The rest of the 16-game regular season is based on the team's relative performance in the year prior, and is done on a rotating schedule so that every team will play each other at least once in every 3 to 4 years.

Teams started to split between the AFC and NFC in 1966 following an agreement between the rivals; NFL and AFL to become what we know as the NFL today. Before the merger between these two there were much fewer teams than there are now, but as the sport became more popular, new cities started teams, and they would get taken into the NFL. The team would then be put into either the AFC or NFC, eventually creating the equal 16-team conferences we know now and a total of 32 teams.


So, we know the NFL consists of 32 teams, divided into 16 teams per each conference. And we know each conference has 4 divisions with 4 teams in each.

During the regular season, each team has a maximum of 55 players, with only 48 of these typically being active on game days. The teams can also have 12 player practice squads as well.

This leads us to wonder about the draft picks and how this works. How exactly are professional football players selected?

We know that the teams are put into one of the two conferences within the NFL, but how do the players get into these teams in the first place?

Draft picks.

Well, here is where we answer this. Every April, the NFL will hold a draft of college players. This will consist of seven rounds, with each of the 32 teams getting one pick in each round. The draft order for non-playoff teams is then determined by regular-season record, and among play-off teams, teams are first ranked by the furthest round of playoffs that they reached, then by regular-season record.

The champion of the Super Bowl will always draft last, and the losing Super Bowl team will draft second to last. Every draftee must be at least 3 years graduated from high school to be eligible, and they must then write an application to the NFL by January 15th renouncing their remaining college eligibility.

Aside from the 7 picks each team gets, there are also compensatory draft picks, which are given to teams who have lost more compensatory free agents than they have gained. These will be spread out from rounds 3 to 7 and a total of 32 will be given.

Drafts are complicated, but for the draftees, it's the most exciting thing in the world.

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