Today is a big day in the world of professional sports. It's NFL Draft Day! If you're not a big sports or football person, the sentence you just read might as well have been: "It's rainbow cookies Starbucks pencil cup!"
But in case you want a quick guide to what will be happening tonight and what everyone will be talking about over the next couple of days, you didn't quite come to the right place. You've come to a place, though, and we do know what the NFL draft is all about, so we can help you out a bit.
Here's your lesson in NFL Draft Day 101:
What is it?
The NFL Draft is the big event where each team picks their new players. It didn't used to be televised, but now it's a big TV happening where any fan can watch it go down.
Who is being picked?
College players, mostly, who are at least three years out of high school. You don't have to be a college player, but that's how most athletes get into the NFL. Players from the Arena Football League and the Canadian Football League are also considered.
How is the order decided?
The team who finished last in the standings after the regular season get the first pick in the draft, meaning they get the pick of the litter. This year the honor goes to the Houston Texans. And yes, some teams who are having a rough season are known to lose on purpose and finish last to secure that coveted first draft spot. For example, before the 2012 draft, the Indianapolis Colts were thought to have "sucked for Luck," meaning they made sure to come in last so they could snatch up their current quarterback Andrew Luck, one of the top QBs coming out of college that year.
Other than that, the order is basically based on a team's win-loss record and whether you made it to the playoffs. Best teams pick later, worst teams pick early.
What about trading?
Teams can certainly trade their draft picks with other teams, but not for money. They can trade players on their current roster with another team to get a higher pick in the draft. So a team gets a good player, and another team gets a good spot in the draft pick. Win-win. Usually. Teams can also trade future draft spots for a player. For example, Washington really wanted Robert Griffin III a couple of years ago, but St. Louis was in the second spot to pick. They were afraid STL was going to snatch him up, so Washington gave the Rams their first and second round pick for that year, plus their first round pick for the next two years. So Washington gave up lots of prime draft spots just for RGIII.
Who are the top picks this year?
Jadeveon Clowney (defensive end from South Carolina), Sammy Watkins (wide receiver from Clemson) Johnny Manziel (QB from Texas A&M) and Khalil Mack (outside linebacker from Buffalo) are among the players who will most likely get snatched up first.
Which teams are going first? Last?
The Houston Texans are first, followed by the St. Louis Rams (from Washington for RGIII) and then the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Super Bowl champs, the Seattle Seahawks, obviously will pick last, behind the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers
I've read about Michael Sam, who might be the first openly gay player in the NFL. Will he get drafted?
Depends on who you ask. He is a very talented defensive player that seems like a no-brainer pick, but some experts think he's too small to play in the NFL at defensive end and not quite fast enough to move to a different position, like a linebacker. Guess we'll find out very soon if Sam will truly be the first out player in NFL history.
What does a sleeper pick mean?
If you hear a player being called a possible "sleeper pick," that means that he was picked late in the draft, but he has the potential to become a really great player. So the team that picked him late in the draft for a low salary might be getting a great deal on a future hall-of-famer. Other teams might have ignored him and passed over him, but one team might really believe in his potential and they'll grab him up. For example, Tom Brady was picked in the sixth round and wasn't really given much thought. Obviously, that pick paid off for the Patriots.
What does it mean when a team is "on the clock"?
It means that we are waiting for a team to announce their pick. In round one, teams have 10 minutes to make their choice, and they usually use that time to discuss players with coaches, experts, managers, etc. The time frame to make a choice drops with each round.
Anything else I should know?
For the first time ever, the prospective players get to pick the song that will blast once their name is announced and they go up on stage. We anticipate at least nine Drake songs and only one Taylor Swift song. Someone will use "I Knew You Were Trouble" tonight. Mark our words.*
*Don't mark our words; that almost definitely will not happen
There you have it! Those are the most basic rules and facts about the NFL draft. If you want more information, there might be a few sports websites out there that could give you an more in-depth look.