🏈 Happy draft day! Imagine waking up this morning and knowing you were about to be selected in the NFL draft — a dream you'd had since you were a kid. Insane...
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The 2019 NFL draft begins tonight at 8pm ET, live from an outdoor stage in downtown Nashville.
📺 How to watch:
Go deeper: Pick-by-pick preview
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
"Underlying the intrigue and drama of the NFL draft is a black market for information," SI's Jenny Vrentas writes:
"In my world, and for people who do my job, we are trying to track down GMs all the time, and a lot of times, especially when they are doing a deal, they avoid us. In draft week, it's the opposite."— NFL Network's Ian Rappaport
The big picture: This exercise in media manipulation and subterfuge has been a part of the NFL draft since its inception, but the methods teams use to acquire information have evolved over time.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
When it comes to evaluating current NFL players, teams have access to more data than ever before. But when it comes to scouting college prospects, that same information isn't widely available, which leads to a lot of guesswork.
What's happening: In order to fill this analytics void, NFL teams have been forced to get creative in their approach to evaluating talent.
The other side: For other prospects, things like player-tracking data are much easier to come by. A handful of conferences generate their own data, as do powerhouse programs like Alabama.
Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Will Grier, Daniel Jones, Drew Lock. Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Every NFL draft, much like the NFL itself, is defined by its quarterbacks. But this year, there's an unusual amount of uncertainty surrounding football's most important position.
The big picture: On top of all of this mystery, college football's most pro-ready QBs — Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence — aren't in the draft.
"There is only one group of people I'm aware of that hates the NFL draft: current NFL players," The Athletic's Ross Tucker, who played seven seasons in the NFL, writes (subscription):
Nick Bosa. Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
From Mike Sykes: The NFL, much like the NBA, is in the midst of an offensive revolution. But, as defenses begin to adapt to these college-inspired schemes, certain types of athletes have become increasingly valuable.
The intrigue: Close to two-thirds of tonight's first-round picks are projected to be used on defensive players, with the top prospects possessing the skillsets needed to stop today's spread offenses.
Some valuable archetypes:
Go deeper: The NFL's linebacker evolution
The best players at each position (via ESPN's big board).
Go deeper: Every draft prospect, ranked
Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
If Iowa's T.J. Heckenson ends up being a top-10 pick, he will be just the fourth tight end this century to go in the top 10.
Answer at the bottom.
How failed NFL draft prospects become grist for the content mill (The Ringer)
"JaMarcus Russell, Tony Mandarich, Ryan Leaf: What do they have in common? They were highly touted football draft picks who flamed out of the league. And they all lived long enough to become sympathetic figures of the bust economy."
Yep, the 1999 NFL draft was just as crazy as you thought (ESPN)
"The epic, chaotic 1999 NFL draft had it all: Quarterback busts galore. Historic, massive trades involving three teams and 15 picks. Thunderous boos, double-crosses ... Mike Ditka in a dreadlocks wig, a Hall of Fame cornerback, a Heisman Trophy winner in a wedding dress and several juicy secrets that have just now come to light."
Meet Prospect X, the draft's deepest sleeper (SI)
"The MMQB spent the past few months searching for the most overlooked prospect in the 2019 NFL draft ... [and] we landed on a player who we believe is the draft's best-kept secret. We will reveal his name in a follow-up after draft weekend, but for now ... he is simply 'Prospect X.'"
Will Dexter Lawrence join his teammates, Clelin Ferrell (left) and Christian Lawrence (right), in the first round? Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
1. How many Clemson defensive linemen will be drafted in the first round? Over/under 2.5?
2. How many top-10 trades will happen? Over/under 1.5?
3. Who will the New York Giants select with their first pick?
🎰 Play now: Make your picks (cutoff time: 8pm ET)
Yesterday's results: 24.5% correctly predicted that the Hurricanes would beat the Capitals … 61.5% correctly predicted that the Rockets and Warriors wouldn't both cover the spread … 24.2% correctly predicted that Kevin Durant would score the most points.
Kendall "Sports, man" Baker
Trivia answer: Kellen Winslow Jr. (No. 6, 2004); Vernon Davis (No. 6, 2006); Eric Ebron (No. 10, 2014)