How will this year's NFL Draft work? Who will be the No.1 pick and who are the ones to watch? We've got your big guide to this week's NFL Draft.
This will be a year like no other as the NFL Draft goes virtual with the top college prospects finding out their fate digitally this year, but it’ll still be a time when their lives will change forever.
The NFL Draft is about hope, and perhaps this year more than ever hope is exactly what is needed as the world struggles to deal with this global pandemic.
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So the league has done everything to ensure that the Draft will still take place, even if the lavish celebration on the Las Vegas strip has been replaced with commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the picks from his basement.
Behind the Super Bowl the NFL Draft is the second-biggest event in the league, and it’s sense of hope again that’s the reason – everyone is starting from scratch, the worst teams have the best picks and the chance to turn their fortunes around by picking the right college stud.
With trades and big shocks aplenty, it should still be a highlight reel event, and there’s plenty to look out for as teams try to load up on talent to make that Super Bowl run.
How does the NFL Draft work?
There are seven rounds of selections with 255 picks in total stretched across three days, starting Thursday April 23 with round one, rounds two and three on April 24 and the rest on April 25. Despite all the picks being made remotely and over the internet, the NFL has not yet allotted more time for teams to make their pick.
That means teams will be sweating over their internet connections as well as their draft boards with teams having ten minutes to make their first-round picks when they’re put “on the clock”, then just seven minutes for second-round picks, five minutes from round three to six and four minutes between round seven selections.
As the NFL is all about equality, the team with the worst record last year goes first in each round, that being the Cincinnati Bengals, and once their pick is made the Washington Redskins have ten minutes to make their pick and so on.
The order may not stay at is it though, as teams can trade up or down depending on whether they feel the need to select a more high-profile player. This can make for some dramatic moments during the draft – but it’ll be interesting to see if they’re as prevalent in this virtual edition.
Draft picks are used as collateral for trades during the season so not every team has as many as they’d like – for instance, the Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, LA Rams, Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers are all without a first round pick as it stands.
Several teams have two first rounders while the Miami Dolphins have three first round picks so are really ones to watch in this draft. They also have the most overall draft picks with a whopping 14, while Super Bowl champions Kansas City have just five – the joint lowest along with New Orleans.
NFL Draft first round order
4. NY Giants
6. LA Chargers
11. NY Jets
12. Las Vegas
13. San Francisco (From Indianapolis)
14. Tampa Bay
18. Miami (From Pittsburgh)
19. Las Vegas (From Chicago)
20. Jacksonville (From LA Rams)
22. Minnesota (From Buffalo)
23. New England
24. New Orleans
26. Miami (From Houston)
30. Green Bay
31. San Francisco
32. Kansas City
So who’ll be first pick?
Quarterbacks, as we know, are the superstars of the league so are naturally the most sought-after, as 14 of the last 20 top picks have been QBs – not all have been successful mind you. The Bengals are expected to follow suit by drafting LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.
Burrow won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player last season, winning that vote by a record margin, and throwing a record 65 touchdowns and a top-ranked 5,671 yards passing. He’s an Ohio native so everything fits for him being the face of the Bengals for years to come.
The Bengals are 1/100 to draft Burrow first, but the only possible fly in the ointment is the presence of uber-talented defensive end Chase Young, who is widely regarded as the best overall player in the draft and a player set to dominate in his position for years to come.
Passing up on him may seem a huge mistake as the years go by, but missing out on a top QB always seems worse. Burrow seems a safe bet to land in Cincy.
Selected NFL Draft odds
- All Top 5 Picks: Jeffrey Okudah, Isaiah Simmons & Chase Young - 15/8
- All Top 10 Picks: Mekhi Becton, Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills & Tristan Wirfs - 11/4
- Jordan Love to be drafted by the Indianapolis Colts - 11/2
- Jalen Hurts to be Drafted by the New England Patriots - 6/1
Sky Bet Price Boost: Exact Draft Order: 1. Joe Burrow, 2.Chase Young, 3.Tua Tagovailoa - 4/1
Who will be the other top picks in the NFL Draft?
Joe Burrow (Quarterback, LSU): As stated above, the LSU quarterback is a star in the making and there’s little doubt he’ll go first pick in the Draft – only a huge change of heart from the Bengals will stop that now.
Chase Young (edge rusher, Ohio State): The consensus best player in the Draft, the Ohio State edge rusher is set to become a nightmare for NFL quarterbacks in years to come. It’d be a big shock if he didn’t go to Washington with the second pick - there's a small case for the Bengals bagging him first, given his 16.5 sack season, but the lure of Burrow is just too strong.
It's funny how the draft works as in many years Young would easily be the first pick due to his amazing skill set, but the Bengals look like they can't afford to pass up on Burrow. That's music to the ears for the Redskins who will have a monster here.
Tua Tagovailoa (Quarterback, Alabama): The brilliant Alabama quarterback had his own hashtag #TankforTua when Miami Dolphins fans wanted their team to finish dead last and get the first pick. Tagovailoa is accurate, elusive and athletic and everything the modern-day NFL quarterback needs to be, but a serious hip injury means there are doubts over his durability.
It means Tagovailoa may not go to Miami after all at pick number five, and from a one-time surefire first pick, he could slip down the order if NFL teams take a more conservative approach. The LA Chargers may just get a bit of a steal at pick six if they take a chance.
Team to draft Tagovailoa: Dolphins 10/11 | Chargers 6/4
Jeff Okudah (Cornerback, Ohio State): Now there are rumblings, even from the Lions themselves, that they could trade out of the third pick to collect more draft capital further down, but if they stay at three then this talented corner is surely their man. Head coach Matt Patricia was the defensive boss with the Patriots and the talented but modest, low-key Okudah seems a perfect fit.
Justin Herbert (Quarterback, Oregon): It looks like being between Herbert and Tagovailoa for the fifth and sixth picks in the Draft, barring any big trades of course, as both the Miami Dolphins and LA Chargers seem interested in both. Tagovailoa is the more talented but those nagging injury doubts could give Herbert the egde.
Herbert could have entered the Draft last year when he would have most probably gone early in the first round, but he opted to play his senior year in Oregon where he threw 32 touchdowns and ran in four in a solid season.
Team to draft Herbert: Dolphins 8/11 | Chargers 7/4 | Panthers 9/1
Isaiah Simmons (Linebacker, Clemson): This athletic freak of nature wowed at the NFL Combine and has been flying up Draft boards ever since. The Giants will have first dibs at the fourth pick to bag the former state champion long jumper, who can do everything from outsider linebacker - and that versatility is a huge bonus in the NFL. The Giants have stunk out the place recently and badly need offensive line reinforcements, in fact they have hole everywhere so may trade down for more picks, but if they stay at four Simmons may just be too good to turn down.
Jordan Love: (Quarterback, Utah State): Love's an interesting character in the Draft as he has all the physical tools you'd want in a modern day quarterback - big, strong, good arm but elusive and quick on his feet - rapid in fact. He's been likened to Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes but could be more like Colin Kaepernick and he certainly needs work to improve.
Decison making and interceptions are his big problems, and although much of his big dip in production last season can be put down to losing some of his star players, it's a big question for NFL teams to answer. He should be a late first-round pick, but he's certainly one to watch as he's been linked with the Packers and Patriots among others.
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