Home News The Impact of the NFL Draft on Audience Engagement and Season Excitement

The Impact of the NFL Draft on Audience Engagement and Season Excitement


The NFL draft almost serves as the pre-party to the high-octane NFL season. It plays a crucial role of generating excitement for the season ahead, helping to shape narratives and storylines. It is wear we see the beginning of the fledgling careers of tomorrows icons, with every draft class producing future stars, Super Bowl winners and maybe even hall of famers. The NFL draft odds have Caleb Williams as a huge odds on favorite to be drafted first overall with the Chicago Bears currently holding the first pick.
In case you are not familiar with the structure of the draft, lets take an overview of just how it works.
At the end of every season, teams are ranked according to their finish in the league that informs the draft order. The team with the worst win record gets the first overall pick in the following season’s draft, second worst gets the second pick and so on. In theory, this should allow the league to remain competitive with teams able to improve their rosters significantly on the back of poor seasons, or at the very least build the base of future strong roster.
NFL Operations explain the draft order for teams who qualify for the playoffs as follows:
Teams that qualify for the playoffs are assigned draft slots 21-32. The order is determined by the results of the previous year’s postseason play:
The four teams eliminated in the wild card round pick in slots 21-24 in the reverse order of their final regular season records.
The four teams eliminated in the divisional round pick in slots 25-28 in the reverse order of their final regular season records.
The two teams that lost in the conference championships pick in the 29th and 30th spots in the reverse order of their final regular season records.
The team that lost the Super Bowl has the 31st pick in the draft.
The Super Bowl champion has the 32nd and final spot in each round.
There are nuances of course such as compensatory picks, but this is how the draft works on the surface. Most of the players in the draft enter the draft portal through playing for an NCAAF team, the collegiate level of football. Their performances in the previous season change the Vegas odds NFL draft lines as the better players are naturally the ones most in demand.
Although the original draft order is laid out as explained, there are some measures teams can take to obtain picks sooner in the draft which allow them to pick better players. This is by trading players already on their roster to teams for their picks. For example, Player A is traded by team A to Team B for Team B’s 12th overall pick. This can often increase excitement as not only do we see an established player switch rosters, but we also see a new draft strategy from both teams. This can also effect the NFL draft betting odds, with strategies changing, players who were perhaps suspected to be picked by the original team may move up or down according to the strategies of other teams.
The strategies employed by teams are integral to improving their rosters and are often mapped out over the course of the season prior and the offseason. This allows them to be in the best possible position come draft day.
Many General Managers will attend the NFL Combine to scout players. This is where players due to enter the draft portal showcase their physical attributes through a series of drills. With most GM’s having their positional priorities finalised by this point, they can now shift their focus on to the ‘who?’ over the ‘where?’.
The combine is very exciting for fans and for many is where they will get their first look of the talent coming into the league in 2024. This year, we saw Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy break the record for the 40 yard dash, clocking in at 4.21 seconds. This set the football world ablaze and of course increased the young receiver’s stock ahead of the draft.
With draft strategies starting to leak and fans becoming aware of the directions their teams are going in for the draft, the impact can start to be felt. It is not always good news either. Many fans can be left frustrated, feeling that organizations are neglecting areas that must be improved. In the age of social media, it is easier than ever for fans to let their voices be heard and audience engagement around the draft is always high. Draft strategies can either leave fans salivating at the prospect of the talent ready to make their way through the door or angered by the choices coming their way. Either way, all eyes are on football without a snap even being played.
This is not just through social media and online discussions, however. Many fans will take part in mock drafts, choosing where they believe some of the top prospects from around the country will be headed.
With strategies mapped out, players scouted and organiaztions ready to make the calls, we are ready for the draft. Usually taking place over a number of days, the draft is televised with millions tuning in. In 2023, a total unduplicated audience of 54 million switched on to watch the draft over three days. The average daily audience was up 12.2% from the year prior, showing just how much it drives engagement.
The NFL Draft is one of the biggest sporting events on the calendar. The excitement and fanfare that surrounds it just goes to show that even without a snap being played, there is no offseason for the NFL.