Why are there only 31 picks in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft?

Steelers, NFL Draft
Steelers, NFL Draft / David Becker/GettyImages

If you've started diving into mock drafts, I'm sure you've noticed that there are only 31 selections in the first round and 32 teams. Every year, 32 picks are standard with no more and no less, so anytime you see something like this, it means that a team was punished.

Obviously, teams have the flexibility to trade their first-round pick, but it never results in an addition or subtraction of total picks in the first round. In rare instances like this, the 2023 NFL Draft will press forward with just 31 overall selections on the first day of the draft.

Why are there only 31 picks in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft?

In this case, it was the Miami Dolphins who messed up. The reasoning is somewhat complex, but it involves tampering during the head coach hiring process because of allegedly trying to throw games in order to improve draft position. This was something that former Dolphins head coach, Brian Flores, did not want to be a part of.

Here's the statement from the investigation and results, per NFL.com:

"The investigation, led by former U.S Attorney and S.E.C. chairperson Mary Jo White, lasted six months and focused on two areas, according to the NFL. The first centered on if the Dolphins violated league tampering rules with quarterback Tom Brady and former Saints head coach Sean Payton while they were under contract with other clubs; the second on if the franchise intentionally lost games during the 2019 season to improve its draft position."

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The loss of a first-round pick is devastating to Dolphins fans, as first-rounders are so valuable. They will not have the luxury of selecting a high-profile prospect early unless they are willing to trade up.

31 first round picks benefits Steelers

While we always hate to hear that tampering is taking place in the NFL, the Dolphins are certainly serving their punishment without a first-rounder. But the fact that there are only 31 selections in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft actually helps the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Just before the 2022 NFL trade deadline, Pittsburgh was able to ship WR Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears for their original second-round pick. Little did they know at the time that this would ultimately become the top pick of the second round.

Now the Steelers hold the 32nd overall pick in the draft. They could either take a talented player who slides out of the first round, or they could elect to trade back and turn the 32nd selection into multiple draft choices.

Next. Steelers mock draft: Early selections reflect pre-draft interests. dark

Teams forfeiting their first-round picks don't happen very often, but it's a reminder to the rest of the league to stay on track. The Dolphins were severely punished because of their decisions, and this has resulted in just 31 overall selections in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.