The 2013 NFL Draft will commence tonight (8 pm ET) with the first round in primetime on ESPN. While 222 players will be taken on Friday and Saturday, it's the 32 whose names will be called in the first round that have everyone's attention.
Unlike last year when it was a foregone conclusion that Andrew Luck was going with the first overall pick and Robert Griffin III with the second, there appears to be very little consensus who Kansas City will take with the No. 1 overall pick, let alone what will happen after that.
Rather than presenting a pick-by-pick mock of how the first round could go, here are some key storylines, players and teams to watch as the action on Thursday night unfolds.
Who's No. 1?
As hard as it may be to believe, Kansas City actually picked a bad year to have the No. 1 overall pick. It's not that the Chiefs won't end up with a quality player who has the potential to be really, really good, it's just that there isn't a surefire, no-doubt No. 1 option on the board. Last year you had two in Luck and Griffin III. This year's draft class has much more of an eye-of-the-beholder feel to it with some team's apparent preferences dictated somewhat by positional need.
Which bring us back to Kansas City. Even though it may not be unanimous, the general consensus among so-called draft experts appears to be that Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel is the No. 1 player on the board. The problem for the Chiefs is that they don't really need a left tackle, since they have Branden Albert already on the roster, for now anyways. The Chiefs used the franchise tag on Albert this offseason, and he has made it known that he would prefer a long-term deal instead. Adding to the intrigue is that Albert also has said he doesn't want to move to the right side of the line to make room for Joeckel. Thus the numerous that the Chiefs and Dolphins are in trade discussions regarding Albert.
Not only is there not a no-doubt No. 1 option on the board, there doesn't seem to be any interest whatsoever in a team swapping places with the Chiefs either. So Kansas City and new head coach Andy Reid, barring a late development, will be making this pick. But who will it be? There seems to be plenty of smoke to the Albert trade talk with the Dolphins, which then seemingly would result in the Chiefs taking Joeckel. If Albert doesn't get traded, do the Chiefs still stick with the former Aggie and worry about bruised egos later? Or do they change gears and go with the second-best available offensive lineman on the board, which happens to be another tackle in Central Michigan's Eric Fisher?
I think it's between Joeckel or Fisher, but it also wouldn't shock me if the Chiefs went a completely different direction and took a defensive player. It's going to be that kind of draft folks.
Moving Up or Moving Down?
Last year 14 picks in the first round alone were traded and that doesn't include two other picks that were involved in previous transactions. Of those 14 traded picks, two were traded a second time before a team selected a player.
While it's almost a guarantee that several picks will be swapped before the night is done, the interesting thing about this year's draft is that there appears to be more interest in trading down rather than trading up. Again some of this is due to the general perception that the talent level among the top players is generally even.
Last year, Washington initially had the sixth pick, but then swapped places with St. Louis for the No. 2 pick, which the Redskins used to take Griffin III. Minnesota and Jacksonville, who already were among the top seven picks, also worked out trades to move even higher up and Dallas also got into the act, trading the 14th pick to St. Louis for the sixth pick the Rams got from the 'Skins.
This year, the Cleveland Browns are in the No. 6 spot and are one of the many teams rumored to be interested in moving down, not up. While there are undoubtedly some teams that would love to move up to increase their chances of getting their guy, it remains to be seen if they are willing to pay the price. St. Louis got three first-round picks and a second rounder from Washington for one pick. Considering how well Griffin performed in his rookie season, no one's really second-guessing Washington for making the trade at this point. But again, there's no RGIII in this year's draft.