The 87th NFL Draft begins Thursday night in Las Vegas.
Again this year the draft can be seen on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network beginning at 8 p.m.
On Friday night, coverage will begin at 7, and rounds 4-7 on Saturday will start at noon.
Ohio State receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave are scheduled to be there while Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner will represent the University of Cincinnati.
Here are five things to know about the three-day event that runs through Saturday:
1. The first pick will probably be a defensive end.
For much of the last three months, Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson has been listed as the likely No. 1 choice of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He was one of the most productive players in the country last season (including dominating the Ohio State-Michigan game), though he is not considered to have the same raw talent as some recent players to go that high.
This week the betting favorite (if that means anything) became Travon Walker, a defensive end from Georgia.
Walker had only 7.5 tackles for loss, including six sacks, but Jags’ general manager Trent Baalke could bet on his raw ability over that of Hutchinson or offensive linemen Ikem Ekwonu of North Carolina State and Evan Neal of Alabama.
“If you had polled us probably a month ago, nobody probably would have ever said Walker would be going No. 1, but that’s really where we are in this draft,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday morning. “He’s a guy who compares to Aldon Smith who of course Trent Baalke had with the 49ers. The upside is considered to be incredibly high if the Jaguars end up with this pick. The belief would be he is someone with home run potential, but I would say probably more intrigue and guessing with this first pick than we’ve seen in some time.”
Michigan last had the No. 1 overall pick in 2008 when Jake Long went to Miami while Georgia last had the No. 1 overall pick a year later when the Lions chose Matthew Stafford.
2. The Browns have no first round picks, and the Bengals don’t pick until 31.
Cleveland traded the 13th pick to the Houston Texans for quarterback Deshaun Watson. Unless they trade up, the Browns won’t have a first round pick next year or the year after because of that deal, which also sent a 2023 third-rounder, this year’s fourth-rounder and a fourth-rounder in 2024 to Houston with a 2024 sixth-rounder coming back to Cleveland.
Eight teams have multiple first-round selections this year, and eight teams have none. Previously the most teams to go through the first round without a pick is six (2020, 1989, ‘74, ‘73), and the most teams to not have a pick in the first round was seven (2020, ‘19, ‘00 and 1973).
The Bengals and Browns both have compensatory picks in the seventh round, and the Browns have an extra pick in the third round. That means Cincinnati begins the draft with eight picks while Cleveland has seven, though in both cases that could change with trades.
3. The Bengals trading out of the first round, too, would not be a surprise.
Cincinnati director of player personnel Duke Tobin confirmed earlier this week the team has great flexibility at their pick.
They could draft a tackle or safety of the future, a potential starting cornerback or just the best player available (who could play one of those positions or another one).
The latter might end up being Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, who was widely considered the best player at his position in college football last season but isn’t viewed as a fit in just any offense because he is a bit undersized at 6-foot-2, 296.
However, the Hawkeyes lean heavily on the same outside zone running scheme the Bengals favor, so he could be higher on their board than others.
4. The University of Cincinnati could have more players drafted than Ohio State.
First off the board from either team is likely to be Gardner, who is a lock to be the first UC defensive back ever drafted in the first round.
After that, Desmond Ridder could become the first UC quarterback to be drafted in the first round since Greg Cook, who went to the Bengals with the No. 5 pick in 1969.
The last UC player at any position drafted in the first round was defensive tackle Bob Bell, who was the No. 21 pick by Detroit in 1971. Bell and Cook are UC’s only first round picks in the common era.
The previous high draft slot for a Bearcats DB is 43, where Artrell Hawkins was picked by the Bengals in 1998.
The other Bearcats in the top 300 are receiver Alec Pierce, safety Bryan Cook, cornerback Coby Bryant, defensive end/linebacker Myjai Sanders, linebacker Darrian Beavers, running back Jerome Ford and interior defensive lineman Curtis Brooks.
A pair of Miami University defensive players also made The Athletic’s consensus top 300: Defensive lineman Dominque Robinson (No. 128 overall) and defensive back Sterling Weatherford (223), who could be drafted as a linebacker.
5. A quarterback has gone first four years in a row, but that streak will be broken his year.
Myles Garrett was the last non-QB to go No. 1 when the Browns picked him to start the 2017 draft. The last non-QB or DE to be taken with the top choice was Eric Fisher, an offensive tackle from Central Michigan taken by the Chiefs in 2013.
Since 1997, every No. 1 overall pick has been a quarterback or defensive end except for Fisher and fellow offensive tackles Long and Orlando Pace (Ohio State, 1997, Rams). In 1996, the No. 1 overall pick was USC receiver Keyshawn Johnson (Jets).
At least three quarterbacks have been selected in the first round sixth years in a row. That streak, the longest in the common draft era, is in jeopardy, too.