NFL Draft Premiere: How it works and where the Bears fit in

You'd be forgiven for forgetting how the NFL Draft works. The Bears, however, do not have a first-round pick in 2019, 2020, or 2022, a result of a trade they made to try to reverse the franchise quarterback curse.

You'd also be forgiven for suddenly getting interested in this week's draft. The Bears are scheduled to make the first overall pick on Thursday – a result of posting the league's worst record – before trading him to the Panthers in March.

Below is a draft of the Sun-Times primer, explaining how it will work, how long it will take—and where the Bears are scheduled to vote:

What's that?

The NFL Draft is how the league's 32 teams select college players. To be eligible, players must have completed at least three years of high school.

When is it?

The first round of the NFL Draft begins at 7 p.m. Thursday at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. The Friday draft, which includes Rounds 2 and 3, begins at 6 p.m. Round 4 begins Saturday at 11:00 am. The Draft ends with the completion of Round 7 Saturday afternoon.

It will air on ABC, ESPN and the NFL Network.

Who voted first?

That should have been the Bears, but general manager Ryan Poles traded the No. 1 overall pick. 1 to the Panthers in March. Instead, the Bears received the No. 1 overall pick. 9 Panthers and the No. 1 pick 61 — third-to-last pick from Round 2 — this year; Panthers first-round pick next year; their second round in 2025; and a DJ Moore receiver.

How does it work?

Draft positions are created in the reverse finishing order from the previous season, meaning the worst team takes first and the Super Bowl champion takes last. Teams can also exchange picks three years down the line.

Each team was given 10 minutes to vote in Round 1 and seven minutes to vote in Round 2. They were given five minutes to vote in Rounds 3-6 and four minutes in Round 7.

Rounds 1 and 2 are usually 32 final picks each. Inning 1 only had 31 picks this season, however, as the Dolphins' first round pick was taken by the NFL for damaging coach Sean Payton and quarterback Tom Brady.

Rounds 3-7 are longer; each contains a compensation option, which is a reward for a team that loses a player in free agency or has a minority employee become head coach or general manager with another team.

When did the Bears vote?

The Bears are scheduled to vote 10 times:

Round 1: No. 9 overall

Round 2: No.53 and No.61

Round 3: No. 64

Chapter 4: No.103 and No.133

Chapter 5: No.136 and No.148

Round 7: No. 218 and No. 258

Will it stay like that?

Probably not. Last year, the Poles made four trades on Day 3 of the draft alone.

Will they get a star?

The draft is a famously inexact science. This century, however, the Bears have exercised the No. 1 pick. their 9th in Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher and outfielder Leonard Floyd.

Who's calling?

It's up to Poland, the Bears' sophomore GM, to make the final decision on who his team will draft. He will do so after consulting with head coach Matt Eberflus, assistant GM Ian Cunningham, player personnel directors Jeff King and Trey Koziol and the team's scouting department. If the player he picks comes with a character question, the Pole will discuss the decision with chairman George McCaskey and new president/CEO Kevin Warren beforehand.

How do teams make choices?

The front office doesn't fly en masse to drafts; instead, they sent one representative. That person sits at their team table in the draft and communicates with their boss at home.

When a team decides who to recruit, they pass on the player's name, position, and college to a representative, who turns the selection into the in-place league official. The NFL employee added player names to a league-wide database that notifies the other 31 picks.