Why Are There Only 31 Picks in the First Round of the NFL Draft?

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The first round of the NFL Draft will take place on Thursday night and if you haven't been paying rapt attention to the machinations of the league, you may be surprised to know that there are only 31 picks instead of the traditional 32. This is due to disciplinary action taken by the league against the Miami Dolphins after owner Stephen Ross and team exec Bruce Beal were accused of tampering with both quarterback Tom Brady and coach Sean Payton at various moments between 2019-2022. Not only was Brady under contract with another team, but they also didn’t pursue the proper channels to reach out to Payton to gauge his interest in leading the team.

Do something like that and you can apparently kiss your first-round draft pick goodbye.

So the Dolphins, coming off a resurgent year, will not get to make a selection and have a future star don one of those cool caps on stage while giving a bro-hug to commissioner Roger Goodell.

Unless, of course, they swing a trade. There's nothing in the rulebook that says a team being put in a nightlong timeout can use their existing assets to find their way into the fray.