The 1972 NFL Draft was held February 1-2, 1972, marking the first time in the common draft era the draft was held later than January. The draft was held at Essex House in New York. The draft consisted of 17 rounds and 442 selections.

The Buffalo Bills made Notre Dame defensive end Walt Patulski the No. 1 overall pick. As of the 2008 draft, he is the only Notre Dame player to be selected first overall.

The Steelers selected Franco Harris out of Penn State 13th overall. As of 2009, he is the only player from this draft to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Harris won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. The Defensive Rookie of the Year was Willie Buchanon, a defensive back from San Diego State who was selected seventh overall by the Green Bay Packers.