Who will be the top picks in this year’s NFL draft?
(CNN) — On February 3, the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII in what was a thrilling finale to the NFL season.
While that game was played almost three months ago, don’t be fooled into thinking that the NFL went into hibernation.
Quite the contrary — teams, fans and pundits alike quickly turned their attention to this year’s NFL Draft.
What is the Draft to the NFL? Think of the Champions League group stage draw. While that takes place in Monaco, the NFL Draft is held in New York City, with neither event involving a playing ball.
Let’s also not forget the team officials that wait with nervous anticipation for this prelude to the NFL season.
Over the years, the Draft has arguably been the second biggest single-day U.S. sporting event behind only the Super Bowl.
That may be why league officials expanded it to three days back in 2010.
For months on end, team scouts, coaches, and officials do their best to evaluate young college talent from across the country in the hope of picking the right players that they hope will turn into superstars.
In the course of just three days, the NFL’s 32 teams get to pick in seven rounds, which amounts to over 250 players being selected.
While many of the aforementioned players pan out and turn into stars, a large number of them flop on the biggest stage.
Think of 1998. The number one pick was Peyton Manning, who went on to become a four-time NFL Most Valuable Player and Super Bowl champion.
But the number two pick that year was Ryan Leaf — arguably the biggest bust in NFL history after he was released just a few years into his career.
Do the latter rounds matter? Most definitely, as one of the most famous diamonds in the rough — Tom Brady — was picked in the sixth round of the 2000 Draft and 199th overall.
Brady has since guided the New England Patriots to five Super Bowl appearances, winning three of them.
While the Super Bowl has always been “the” event in the U.S., the NFL Draft has steadily gathered more steam through the decades to be what it is today.
The first one — held in 1936 — was held in Philadelphia and featured names written on a blackboard from which teams chose from.
Fast forward to the present day. The event is held in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, with rabid NFL fans allowed to attend, and most importantly, all three days televised nationally with non-stop coverage.
The spectacle of young and promising college football players being selected by legendary NFL franchises now garners so much interest, that day one of the Draft is watched by more people than an NBA Finals game — that’s including LeBron James and the Miami Heat’s triumph last season.
How many of the more than 250 players selected will pan out? Only time will tell. But one thing is certain: time has cemented the NFL Draft as must-see TV in the U.S.