For hundreds of NFL hopefuls, the draft represents more than an offseason event. To those prospects, being one of 254 players selected this weekend means the chance of earning a career playing the sport they love.
While those players wait anxiously for their phone to ring, NFL decision-makers are hurriedly pouring through rankings and numbers. The difference between winning and losing begins on draft day, and the pressure to make the right decisions is inherent with the job.
Fans are given an inside look at the entire process throughout the draft with tremendous coverage that has taken the event to a new level. Once a process that hardly garnered attention in the sports page of the local newspaper, the draft is now covered from pick No. 1 to “Mr. Irrelevant” and pick No. 254 with some of the most inclusive television coverage fans could ask for.
Months of speculation will come to an end this weekend, but there’s still plenty more to analyze. We’ll take a look at everything you need to know about the 2013 NFL draft, including times, television information, players to watch and more.
Where: Radio City Music Hall, New York City
When: Thursday, April 25, at 8 p.m. ET
Television: NFL Network
Day 2 Coverage: Friday, April 26, at 6:30 p.m. ET (Rounds 2 and 3)
Day 3 Coverage: Saturday, April 27, at 12 p.m. ET (Rounds 4-7)
Number of Picks: 254
|1. Kansas City Chiefs||9. New York Jets||17. Pittsburgh Steelers||25. Minnesota Vikings|
|2. Jacksonville Jaguars||10. Tennessee Titans||18. Dallas Cowboys||26. Green Bay Packers|
|3. Oakland Raiders||11. San Diego Chargers||19. New York Giants||27. Houston Texans|
|4. Philadelphia Eagles||12. Miami Dolphins||20. Chicago Bears||28. Denver Broncos|
|5. Detroit Lions||13. New York Jets||21. Cincinnati Bengals||29. New England Patriots|
|6. Cleveland Browns||14. Carolina Panthers||22. St. Louis Rams||30. Atlanta Falcons|
|7. Arizona Cardinals||15. New Orleans Saints||23. Minnesota Vikings||31. San Francisco 49ers|
|8. Buffalo Bills||16. St. Louis Rams||24. Indianapolis Colts||32. Baltimore Ravens|
*Full draft order can be found at ESPN.com.
Projected Top-Five Picks
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Chiefs are in a position to take the best player available in this draft class. Without a glaring need at the quarterback position, Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel stands to be the first player selected in the draft.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
Jacksonville hasn't had much early-round success in recent years. In order for new general manager David Caldwell to make a smart decision on Day 1, he'll have to take a player with versatility, upside and a pro-ready skill set.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Raiders have a lot of holes to fill in this year's draft. Reggie McKenzie has to make the most of the opportunity and find a player who can be an impact player at a position of need. Florida's Sharrif Floyd fits the bill.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Things are changing in Philadelphia. The 2013 offseason has been a period of major transitions, some of which are happening on the defensive side of the ball. In order to make it a seamless process, the Eagles may opt for an immediate starter and impact player on the defensive line.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Lions need to protect their franchise quarterback. With offensive tackles Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus no longer around, Martin Mayhew has to make replenishing the position a top priority in the first round.
*Projections based on writer’s opinion.
Team With Most Picks: San Francisco 49ers (13)
The San Francisco 49ers made a trip to the Super Bowl last season, added some quality talent in free agency and now have 13 picks to work with in this year’s draft, including the No. 31 selection in the first round.
With a slew of picks to go around, expect the 49ers to be major movers throughout the draft, packaging selections to move up and down the board for players they want. No team will be as active as San Francisco this weekend.
Teams With Fewest Picks: New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers (5 each)
The Saints, Panthers, Bears and Patriots will have to make good use of their picks this year as each team has just five to work with. Given the amount of teams that will be trying to trade down in the first round, moving back on Day 1 to acquire more picks may be a problem for each of these teams.
Chicago and New England will be teams to watch near the bottom of the first round (20th and 29th, respectively). Should those teams be interested in obtaining more draft picks by trading back into the second round, there may be a market for their first-round selections.
Last 10 No. 1 Selections
|2012||Indianapolis Colts||Andrew Luck||QB|
|2011||Carolina Panthers||Cam Newton||QB|
|2010||St. Louis Rams||Sam Bradford||QB|
|2009||Detroit Lions||Matthew Stafford||QB|
|2008||Miami Dolphins||Jake Long||OT|
|2007||Oakland Raiders||JaMarcus Russell||QB|
|2006||Houston Texans||Mario Williams||DE|
|2005||San Francisco 49ers||Alex Smith||QB|
|2004||San Diego Chargers||Eli Manning||QB|
|2003||Cincinnati Bengals||Carson Palmer||QB|
As is often the case, quarterbacks have stolen the headlines leading up to the draft. But unlike recent years, this year's crop of signal-callers isn't giving much reason to be optimistic.
West Virginia's Geno Smith is the only quarterback garnering overwhelming consideration as a top prospect at the position. Where he is drafted Thursday will rely heavily on the need for franchise quarterbacks in the NFL.
USC's Matt Barkley and Syracuse's Ryan Nassib are also garnering some first-round consideration this year, as well at Florida State's E.J. Manuel. Of the trio, only Manuel was invited to be in attendance for the first round.
With a lot of uncertainty at the quarterback position, this year's group of signal-callers could play a big part in shaking up the entire draft.