The settlement between the league and the players called for the draft to be reduced to 12 rounds and also introduced compensatory picks and the supplemental draft. It was approved by Federal courts in March of 1977 and stood up to appeals.
Because of their 0-14 record in the previous season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the first overall selection, and chose RB Ricky Bell from USC. Buccaneers coach John McKay was familiar with Bell from his time at USC. The Buccaneers passed up 1976 Heisman Trophy Winner Tony Dorsett, who fell to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 2.
Dorsett was the 1977 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, and as of 2009 is the only player from this draft class to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A.J. Duhe, a first-round pick of the Dolphins from LSU, won Defensive Rookie of the Year Honors.