How Many Picks Are in the NFL Draft?

2006 NFL Draft
2006 NFL Draft / Chris Trotman/GettyImages

The 2023 NFL Draft is just around the corner so we're answering some basic questions about the event. One is just how many picks are there in the annual event? That's actually a complicated answer because it changes every year.

The 2023 draft will have 259 picks. It will start with the Carolina Panthers at No. 1 and the Houston Texans are scheduled to finish it off by selecting Mr. Irrelevant with the 259th selection.

Each NFL team is allotted one pick in each of the seven rounds of the draft. That's a total of 224 picks. As long as no selections are taken away from teams as penalties for league offenses, the draft should have a baseline of 224 picks. The Miami Dolphins lost their first-round pick this year as a result of a tampering investigation, so the baseline for the 2023 draft is 223 picks. But teams are also awarded compensation selections beginning late in the third round based on losses in free agency or of key staff members.

The NFL assesses the value of the lost players or personnel and awards draft picks based on those departures. In 2023, the San Francisco 49ers lead the way with seven compensatory picks, while the Los Angeles Rams were awarded four.

So the number of picks in each draft is dependent on how many compensatory selections are awarded. As stated, in 2023, the draft will be 259 picks, but in 2022 there were 262 selections, and the 2021 draft had 259 picks.