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The 2023 NFL Draft is almost here, and we might be in store for the most unpredictable draft in recent memory. Will the Carolina Panthers select Alabama quarterback Bryce Young No. 1 overall as everyone expects? How far will Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud and Georgia DT Jalen Carter fall? Where will boom-or-bust QB prospects Will Levis and Anthony Richardson end up?

All of those questions and more will finally be answered this Thursday night.

The 2023 NFL Draft isn’t just unique because of its unpredictability, though. It’s also unique because there will be only 31 picks made in the first round, as opposed to the typical 32. What’s up with that?

Why are there only 31 picks in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft?

The 2011 NFL Draft stage is shown.
A general view of the stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall | Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The NFL draft typically features 32 picks in each of the seven rounds for the 32 teams around the league. If there were no trades, every team would select one pick in each round depending on its record or playoff finish from the previous season.

In 2023, though, there are only 31 picks in the first round of the draft. Why?

It all dates back to August 2022 when the NFL stripped the Miami Dolphins of two draft picks for tampering with Tom Brady and Sean Payton. The NFL found through an investigation that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and vice chairman/limited partner Bruce Beal violated the league’s anti-tampering policy three times from 2019 to 2022.

Here’s how the NFL described the three instances, per The Athletic:

  • The Dolphins had impermissible communications with Brady in 2019-20, while he was under contract to the Patriots. Those communications began as early as Aug. 2019 and continued throughout the 2019 season and postseason. These numerous and detailed discussions were conducted by Beal, who in turn kept Ross and other Dolphins executives informed of his discussions with Brady.
  • The Dolphins again had impermissible communications with both Brady and his agent during and after the 2021 season, while he was under contract to the Buccaneers. Those discussions began no later than early Dec. 2021 and focused on Brady becoming a limited partner in the Dolphins and possibly serving as a football executive, although at times they also included the possibility of his playing for the Dolphins. Both Ross and Beal were active participants in these discussions.
  • In Jan. 2022, the Dolphins had impermissible communications with Don Yee, the agent for Payton, about having Payton serve as Miami’s head coach. Miami did not seek consent from New Orleans to have these discussions, which occurred before Payton announced his decision to retire as head coach of the Saints. Following that announcement, Miami requested permission to speak to Payton for the first time, which New Orleans declined to grant.

The Dolphins were forced to surrender their 2023 first-round pick and their 2024 third-round pick. Ross was fined $1.5 million and suspended through Oct. 17, 2022, and Beal was fined $500,000 for his involvement. Neither Brady nor Payton were disciplined.

Miami currently has only four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, and this marks the second year in a row the Dolphins don’t hold a first-round pick.


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