NFL Draft primer: How it works and where the Bears fit in

Below is the Sun-Times’ draft primer, which explains how the draft works, how long it goes — and where the Bears are slated to pick.

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announces the Bears’ pick in 2018.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announces the Bears’ pick in 2018.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

You’d be forgiven for forgetting how the NFL Draft works. The Bears, after all, didn’t have a first-round pick in 2019, 2020 or 2022, the result of trades they made to try to reverse the franchise’s quarterback curse.

You’d be forgiven, too, for sudden interest in this week’s draft. The Bears were slated to have the first overall pick Thursday — the result of posting the league’s worst record — before trading it to the Panthers in March.

Below is the Sun-Times’ draft primer, which explains how it works, how long it goes — and where the Bears are slated to pick:

What is it?

The NFL Draft is how the league’s 32 teams select college players. To be eligible, players must have been out of high school for at least three years.

When is it?

The first round of the NFL Draft starts at 7 p.m. Thursday at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. Friday’s draft, which includes Rounds 2 and 3, begins at 6 p.m. Round 4 begins Saturday at 11 a.m. The draft ends with the completion of Round 7 late Saturday afternoon.

It will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network.

Who picks first?

It was supposed to be the Bears, but general manager Ryan Poles traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Panthers in March. In exchange, the Bears received the Panthers’ No. 9 overall pick and the No. 61 pick — the third-to-last choice of Round 2 — this year; the Panthers’ first-round pick next year; their second-rounder in 2025; and receiver D.J. Moore.

How does it work?

Draft position is created in reverse order of finish from the previous season, meaning that the worst teams pick the earliest and the Super Bowl champion picks last. Teams can trade picks three years into the future, too.

Each team is given 10 minutes to make a Round 1 selection and seven to pick in Round 2. They’re allowed five minutes to make picks in Rounds 3-6 and four minutes in Round 7.

Rounds 1 and 2 typically last 32 picks each. Round 1 has only 31 picks this season, however, because the Dolphins had their first-round pick taken away by the NFL for tampering with coach Sean Payton and quarterback Tom Brady.

Rounds 3-7 are longer; each contains compensatory picks, which are rewards for teams who lose players in free agency or have minority employees become head coaches or general managers with other teams.

When do the Bears pick?

The Bears are slated to pick 10 times:

Round 1: No. 9 overall

Round 2: No. 53 and No. 61

Round 3: No. 64

Round 4: No. 103 and No. 133

Round 5: No. 136 and No. 148

Round 7: No. 218 and No. 258

Will it stay that way?

Probably not. Last year, Poles made four trades on Day 3 of the draft alone.

Will they get a star?

The draft is a famously inexact science. This century, though, the Bears have used their No. 9 pick on Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd.

Who makes the call?

It’s the job of Poles, the Bears’ second-year GM, to make the final decision about whom his team drafts. He’ll do so after consulting with head coach Matt Eberflus, assistant GM Ian Cunningham, player personnel directors Jeff King and Trey Koziol and the team’s scouting department. If the player he’s choosing comes with character questions, Poles will have discussed the decision with chairman George McCaskey and new president/CEO Kevin Warren in advance.

How do teams make the pick?

Front offices do not fly en masse to the draft; rather, they send one representative. That person sits at their team’s table at the draft and communicates with their bosses back home.

When a team decides on whom to draft, they relay the player’s name, position and college to the representative, who turns the pick into an on-site league official. That NFL employee adds the player’s name to a league-wide database that alerts the other 31 teams of the pick.

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