The rampant speculation about the 2013 NFL draft can finally come to a close. The festivities are mere minutes away from getting started, with the Kansas City Chiefs readying to make the No. 1 pick as an entire nation is glued to the television in anticipation.
Taking place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the NFL draft is widely considered a national holiday among our football-crazed culture. Though the process is little more than a parading of gigantic men up a stage to hug commissioner Roger Goodell, the palpable excitement between picks makes the event one of the most captivating reality shows on television.
According to Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch, NFL Network and ESPN combined to average 8.1 million viewers for their coverage in 2012. That number was a 16 percent increase from 2011, continuing an upward trend for the draft's ratings.
The brainchild of Goodell, the league's move to a prime-time first round has worked like gangbusters. Ratings have shown signs of growth each year, which should lead to a hefty bidding war once the draft rights come up for a renegotiated contract.
And that ratings spike should only continue in 2013. Heading into Thursday's opening round, we may know less than ever about the draft's ultimate result. Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported earlier in the day that the Kansas City Chiefs will take Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher with their top overall pick.
Other than Fisher, though, the top of Thursday's first round remains very much in flux. Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel, once considered a mortal lock to be taken No. 1 overall, now faces a backslide. The vision of top picks sitting in the green room desperately hoping for a call has become a bastion of NFL draft day, one that may be the overarching storyline of Thursday night.
If those captivating moments don't come from Joeckel in the green room, they may come from the sliding of the draft's top quarterbacks. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. had Geno Smith, Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib—ostensibly 2013's top signal-callers—all falling out of the first round in his final mock draft. If Kiper's prediction comes true, it would be the first time since 1996 a quarterback was not taken in the first round.
In other words, something historic will be happening on Thursday. And with top reporters across ESPN and NFL platforms promising not to tweet the picks before they are announced, you'll want to catch every minute of first-round action.
For that reason, here is a complete breakdown of the start time and where you can watch the 2013 NFL draft on Thursday.
2013 NFL Draft Information
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN and NFL Network
Live Stream: NFL.com
2013 NFL Draft First Round Order
|1||Kansas City Chiefs|
|9||New York Jets|
|11||San Diego Chargers|
|13||New York Jets (via Tampa Bay Buccaneers)|
|15||New Orleans Saints|
|16||St. Louis Rams|
|19||New York Giants|
|22||St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)|
|25||Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks)|
|26||Green Bay Packers|
|29||New England Patriots|
|31||San Francisco 49ers|