Jussel: Draft questions start at top

Drum roll, please.

For your enjoyment, the National Football League draft — all three days of it.

Yes, it’s two weeks later than usual, but better late than never and more exciting than any of the other reality shows you would be watching in its stead.

You can follow the people picking on Facebook, stream it live, or if you are techno-challenged like Yours Truly, simply remote your way to ESPN or the NFL Network, which will both carry the action — or lack thereof.

A few facts and figures for those of you who won’t be able to stay away from the most-anticipated offseason event of any sport anywhere:

This edition of name-calling at its best is a three-day affair starting at 6 tonight, coming from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Tonight’s 32 selections will be completed with each team having 10 minutes to cogitate.

Friday, Rounds 2 and 3 will start at 5 p.m., with each team having 7 minutes to pick in Round 2, only 5 minutes in Round 3.

Saturday will be a day-long marathon starting at 10 a.m., with Rounds 4-7, again with each team having 5 minutes per selection.

There you have it. Load up on your favorite beverages and chips and make sure you have your laptop or note pad handy so you can play along.

The biggest question, of course, is: Who goes first? Which leads to all kinds of conjecture.

Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina is hands-down the best athlete of the bunch, but he has spent the better part of an entire season trying to create reasons not to be selected first.

He is reportedly the second coming of Lawrence Taylor as a pass rusher, but he also reportedly is lazy, too cocky, uncoachable and unreliable.

The Houston Texans, who have the first pick, may like him enough to draft him, or they may trade the pick.

Only the Texans at this point know for sure.

There are only a couple other players who might jump over Clowney to become the first selection: offensive tackle Greg Robinson of Auburn; wide receiver Sammy Watkins of Clemson; and maybe linebacker Khalil Mack of Buffalo.

But most likely, Clowney will be the pick, by the Texans or another team.

The team that most fans in these parts are most worried about, the Denver Broncos, won’t step up to the podium until the 31st selection is made, unless of course they trade up or down, something they have done often in past years.

The scenario for trading up probably wouldn’t rear its head unless a player the Broncos covet has not been selected by maybe the 20th pick.

Players John Elway and his staff would love to have, if they can somehow get their mitts on any of them, include Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (he would fill a need, but should be off the board by picks 10-15) and cornerbacks Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State or Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State (ditto on the “need” and approximate time of selection).

If any of those three is still available into the early 20s, Denver would probably be on the phone and entered into serious discussion.

If the Broncos opt to trade down, it would be much like the process of two years ago when they drafted defensive lineman Derek Wolfe. Denver traded from a similar late-20s spot down into the second round to acquire more picks and grab Wolfe, whom they felt would last into the middle of the second round.

The Broncos might trade down again if they feel there are a large number of players left that would fill needs — a bundle of cornerbacks, maybe several wideouts, maybe a couple of inside linebackers.

Considering this draft is heavy in terms of talented corners and wide receivers, the Broncos may pick up several impact players in Rounds 2, 3 or 4. The option of trading down certainly does not seem out of the question.

If the Broncos stay at No. 31, I had earlier mentioned Stan Jean-Baptiste, the big cornerback from Nebraska. I’m going to change my mind — I can do that — and say they wait for him until the second round.

With the first pick, No. 31 in the draft, Denver picks ... Ryan Shazier, an outside linebacker from Ohio State who will be converted to the inside spot and quickly dazzle with his outrageous speed.

Rick Jussel is a former Daily Sentinel sports editor (think Dark Ages) and Grand Junction High School journalism teacher who belongs in the Armchair Quarterback Hall of Fame, if only there was one. His Bronco-related columns also are published on SI.com’s “Predominantly Orange” and “Fan-sided” websites.


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