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USFL announces format for modified snake-style draft

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The USFL will hold its inaugural player draft beginning Tuesday, a 35-round, modified snake-style procedure that will bring the first 280 players into the league.

The two-day draft will be held in Birmingham, Ala., which will host all games for the eight-game league in 2022.

The Michigan Panthers have the first pick, followed by the Tampa Bay Stallions, Philadelphia Stars, New Jersey Generals, Houston Gamblers, Birmingham Stallions, Pittsburgh Maulers and New Orleans Bandits.

In Round 2, the Bandits will have the first pick, and the teams will pick in descending order. In Round 3, the Maulers will pick first.

“For the 2022 season, we’re using an analytic modified snake system that’s equitable for all our teams during our first-ever draft,” said Brian Woods, the league’s president of football operations. “Our teams have needs at every position, so we also chose a unique format that made our teams focus on evaluating and drafting key positions first.”

The league said this is the first time in a major pro sports draft that this selection system will be used. It gives each team two No. 1 picks at two positions.

Players will be drafted by position in the first 12 rounds on Tuesday. Each team must start with a quarterback in Round 1, followed by an edge rusher/defensive end (Rounds 2-4), offensive tackle (Rounds 5-7), cornerback (Rounds 8-11) and back to quarterback (Round 12). Teams will have two minutes per selection on the first day.

On Wednesday, teams will have 90 seconds per pick in Rounds 13-23. Wide receivers will be taken in Rounds 11-17, followed by the safety position (Rounds 18-19), center (Round 20), inside linebacker (Round 21); and guard (Rounds 22-23).

In the remaining rounds, teams will have one minute to make a selection. Defensive and nose tackles can be drafted in Rounds 24-26, then running backs/fullbacks (Rounds 27-28), outside linebackers (Rounds 29-31), kickers (Round 32), punters (Round 33), tight ends/h-backs (Round 34) and long snappers (Round 35).

Teams must draft at least one player from each position group.

Trades between teams won’t be allowed, but teams may pass during a round to receive a compensatory pick that can be used at the end of another position round.

Already, the league has a pool of more than 450 players who have signed contracts and are eligible for the draft. A 10-round supplemental draft will be held March 10 to choose 80 more players.

Names of players in the pool haven’t been announced.

By the time the season opens on April 16, all teams will have 38 active players and seven more on the practice squad.

–Field Level Media

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