A last-minute look at storylines to watch in draft's first round
NEW YORK -- The two-month NFL Draft season, which seems to get longer and more ridiculous every year, mercifully peaks tonight in midtown Manhattan, when commissioner Roger Goodell will step to the podium at Radio City Music Hall shortly after 8 Eastern to announce Andrew Luck as the first pick in the 77th league draft.
"I'm really ready for this to happen," Ryan Tannehill said over breakfast in Manhattan this morning. "I'm ready for the media hoopla to be over, all the debate, all the arguing you see on TV. We're football players. This whole experience has been fun, but I can't wait to get this over and play the game."
There will be drama; we just don't know what it is yet. But it figures to center around these draft positions, teams or players:
The one exception here, at No. 4 with Cleveland, could be Alabama running back Trent Richardson. But I look for Minnesota to stay put, ignore the bleatings of people like me who say the Vikes should take a corner here, and draft USC tackle Matt Kalil. Then the Vikes could pick a big corner like Montana's Trumaine Johnson with the 35th overall pick, to match up with the Calvin Johnsons and Jordy Nelsons of the NFC North.
There's no question teams will be more comfortable moving around because of price certainty, and because trading up doesn't mean you're necessarily taking on millions more in a risky, unproved player. Normally, I'd say this would help Jacksonville -- and it could, if a desperate team like Dallas decides Alabama safety Mark Barron is worth its second-round pick (45th overall) to move up eight spots in the first round to acquire him.
He's going to have major financial problems, having to care for four children by three different mothers already, and the team that drafts him has to make sure he can put his past marijuana problems in the rear-view mirror. I can't see anyone taking him in the first, but I'm told a few teams have gotten comfortable with Jenkins in the last couple of weeks. Look for New England, Carolina, St. Louis, Buffalo and Dallas to be tempted.
Those are a few of the storylines that will develop tonight. More are sure to come, which is why ESPN and NFL Network will have game-like ratings for the draft.
Teams will have 10 minutes per pick in round one. On Friday (7 p.m. ET), teams get seven minutes per pick in round two and five minutes per choice in round three. The final four rounds kick off Saturday at noon, with five minutes per pick again.