The purpose of the NFL draft has always been to help bad teams get better. But for many years, a club with a high pick had to take a major risk by paying a huge salary to an unproven player. To persuade JaMarcus Russell to sign in 2007, the Oakland Raiders had to guarantee him $32 million before he took a snap.
That all changed under the new collective bargaining agreement approved in summer 2011. It established a rookie wage scale and dramatically reduced the money paid to top picks.
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Round 1: 8 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Thursday, NFL Network, ESPN
Rounds 2-3: 6:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday, NFL Network, ESPN/ESPN2*
Rounds 4-7: Noon-8 p.m. Saturday, NFL Network, ESPN/ESPN2*
*ESPN2 takes over at 8 p.m. Friday and at 7 p.m. Saturday.