The annual draft in the National Football League is always a soap opera of sorts, complete with pulp fiction, hearsay, perceived risers and fallers along with the long-awaited payoff of many questions. It is part of why the event so fervently captures the hearts and minds of so many. This despite not a single touchdown scored, red flag thrown or last-second game-winning play.
The draft promises and delivers so much each April because it is the climax of so many months, a year or more in some cases, of intellectual and emotional rigor as it applies to each NFL team.
This relevance encompasses football operations personnel (general managers, head coaches and scouts with their player evaluations and draft strategy) and fans alike. The latter's hopes and expectations for their rooting interest are tied so closely to the results.
The draftniks and media types navigate the in-between, couching their own projections against the canvas of capturing the most compelling storylines for their audience. The wins and losses in this theater can come from the results of mock-draft accuracy and/or player evaluations, along with striking a resonant chord with their readership.
Last year, a huge point of suspense was who the Carolina Panthers would end up selecting first overall. There was ample debate in the analysis community, and probably even within Panthers headquarters, for Cam Newton, but also Blaine Gabbert, Von Miller and Marcell Dareus.
Full disclosure: I vehemently opposed the Newton selection to Carolina; I was in the Von Miller camp. And while Miller certainly had a great rookie year in justifying the argument for him in that spot, so did Newton equally do so in proving my camp wrong.
I never thought he would have a season of passing success throughout his entire career like he did as a rookie, coming off a truncated preseason, no less.
But what are the big questions in 2012? Scroll forward in this slideshow to check out the eight biggest storylines as we head into the draft in two weeks. Due to the highly subjective nature of each subplot's significance, they are not listed in any particular order.