International Simulation Football League Draft

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The National Simulation Football League Draft, also called the NSFL Draft is an annual event which serves as the league's most common source of player recruitment. The basic design of the draft is that each team is given a position in the drafting order in reverse order relative to its record in the previous year, which means that the last place team is positioned first. From this position, the team can either select a player or trade their position to another team for other draft positions, a player or players, or any combination thereof. The round is complete when each team has either selected a player or traded its draft position. The number of rounds in the draft varies from year to year, depending on the number of players available for selection.

The original rationale in creating the draft was to increase the competitive parity between the teams as the worst team would, ideally, have chosen the best player available. Colloquially, the name of the draft each year takes on the form of the NSFL season in which players picked could begin playing for an NSFL team – this is particularly important, given that players are not eligible to play for an NSFL team until having completed a full season in the Developmental Simulation Football League (DSFL). For example, the 2018 ISFL Draft (S3) was for the 2018 ISFL season. The draft's popularity now garners enough interest that the league puts on a live stream of the event.


The first NSFL draft took place in a different fashion to subsequent drafts. Firstly, there were no team rankings with which to construct a draft order, so a draft lottery was held to determine the order of selection[1]. This order would then be reversed for the second round, and again for the third, and so on. Allowing teams to select in a serpentine order would mitigate the benefits of getting the first pick, or the disadvantages of being the last pick in the first round.

A total of 137 players were selected in the inaugural draft[2] – the San Jose Sabercats elected to pass with their twenty-third and final selection – with the first being J. J. Reigns, selected by the Orange County Otters. The final selection was Wes Washington, taken by the Arizona Outlaws.

Other notable drafts include the 2017 Expansion Draft – in which the existing teams had to make a number of players available for selection by the newly created Philadelphia Liberty and Las Vegas Legion – and the 2019 ISFL Draft (S4), which was affected by the establishment of the DSFL and the corresponding draft.

Current format

Players who have been out of high school for at least three years are eligible for the NSFL draft. The rules do not state that a player must attend college, but virtually all of the players selected in the NSFL draft have played college football, usually in the United States but occasionally other nations as well. A few players are occasionally selected from other football leagues, and a small handful of players have also been drafted from colleges who played other sports than football.

Rules only state that a player must be three years removed from high school graduation, regardless of what the prospective draftee did during that time. A year as a redshirt player in college counts toward eligibility even though the player was not allowed to participate in games during that year, therefore players who have completed their redshirt sophomore year can enter the NSFL draft.

Rules for determining draft order

The selection order is based on each team's win-loss record in the previous season and whether the team reached the playoffs. Teams that did not reach the playoffs the previous season are ranked in reverse order of their records (thus the team with the fewest wins is awarded the first selection). Ties between teams with identical records are determined by the following tiebreakers (in order):

  1. Strength of schedule, which is the combined win-loss record for all 14 of the team's opponents in the previous season (ties count as a half win and half loss). The team with the lower strength of schedule (i.e. their opponents compiled fewer wins) is granted the earlier pick in round one.
  2. Record in common games against division opponents (if the teams are in the same division).
  3. Record in common games against conference opponents (if the teams are in the same conference).
  4. Coin flip(s), which occur(s) at the pre-draft NSFL Scouting Combine.

Teams that reached the playoffs the previous season are then slotted in the order in which they were eliminated as indicated in the table below. Within each tier, the slotting is determined as above (i.e. worst record picks first and the same tiebreakers apply).

Status Draft picks
Non-playoff teams 1–4
Conference runners-up 5-6
Ultimus Bowl runner-up 7
Ultimus champion 8

Once the order for the first round is determined as described above, the selection order remains the same for subsequent rounds.

Pick trades

Teams may negotiate with one another both before and during the draft for the right to pick an additional player in a given round. For example, a team may include draft picks in future drafts in order to acquire a player during a trading period. Teams may also make negotiations during the draft relinquishing the right to pick in a given round for the right to have an additional pick in a later round. Thus teams may have no picks or multiple picks in a given round.


The commissioner has the ability to forfeit picks the team is allotted in a draft. < EXPAND >

Team policies

Teams vary greatly in their selection methodologies. General managers, coaches, and even other players may or may not participate. Several teams are known to have a "war room" made up of the general managers and some senior players whose input is valued.

Events leading up to the draft

NSFL Scouting Combine

The NSFL Scouting Combine is a six-day assessment of skills occurring every year prior to the draft. Players eligible for the upcoming draft perform physical and mental tests in front of NSFL coaches, general managers, and scouts. With increasing interest in the NSFL draft, the scouting combine has grown in scope and significance, allowing personnel directors to evaluate upcoming prospects in a standardized setting. Implications of one's performance during the Combine can affect perception, draft status, salary, and ultimately career. The draft has popularized the term "Workout Warrior" (sometimes known as a "Workout Wonder"), describing an athlete who, based on superior measurables such as size, speed, and strength, has increased his "draft stock" despite having a possibly average or subpar college career.

Interviews and holdouts

Prior to the draft, many teams will contact prospects for an interview, in order to gauge their potential, and perhaps adjust their expectation of where a player might be drafted. This can affect the chances of the team drafting that player, depending on their draft strategy and "big board". A bad interview, or worse, non-response, can see one's draft stock plummet. Similarly, a player may not be impressed by the approach (or non-approach) of a team, and be unwilling to sign for them should they draft him or her. A player who opts not to sign a contract with the team that drafts them is known as a draft holdout, and sometimes a player choosing to take this course of action will publicly inform the entire league ahead of the draft. This can lead to a lower draft position, however, or the cultivation of a negative reputation within the league, so it is not a strategy employed often.

See also


  1. "NSFL Inaugural Draft Lottery".
  2. "NSFL Inaugural Draft".