The time for speculation and mock drafts is over: The 2022 NFL draft gets underway in Las Vegas on Thursday at 8 p.m., Eastern time.
Over the course of three days and seven rounds, the NFL’s 32 teams will select 262 prospects to join the league. The league awarded 39 compensatory selections to this year’s draft, and seven picks were awarded to six teams — the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers (who got two), Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams — as part of an initiative to reward diverse hiring of head coaches and primary football executives (general managers).
How to watch the draft
The first round of the draft will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network and streamed across NFL and ESPN mobile apps. The second and third rounds will be held Friday, starting at 7 p.m., and rounds four through seven will be held Saturday, beginning at noon.
Teams to keep an eye on
For the second consecutive year, the Jacksonville Jaguars have the No. 1 overall pick. Jacksonville (3-14 last season) has a total of 12 draft picks and is in need of help at just about every position. The team’s biggest priorities are on the offensive and defensive lines, but it could also be looking for a wide receiver.
With the second and 32nd picks, the Detroit Lions are looking to pack their defensive line, and a new cornerback could be in their future. They are among the eight teams that have two picks in the first round. Another, the Houston Texans (Nos. 3 and 13), may be scouting for a wide receiver.
The New York Jets currently have five draft picks in the first three rounds, including the fourth and 10th selections. Along with the New York Giants, who have the fifth and seventh picks, the Jets are said to be interested in trading some of their existing draft stock to acquire a veteran player. (With teams reportedly shopping receiver Deebo Samuel and quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo, there are options.)
Eight teams — the Rams, 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Browns, Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders — do not have first-round picks.
Players to watch
Of the 262 prospects, only 20 will attend the event in Las Vegas. Among them are Aidan Hutchinson, a defensive end from Michigan who finished second in Heisman Trophy voting and is in the mix as a potential No. 1 pick; Kayvon Thibodeaux, a pass rusher from Oregon; Ikem Ekwonu from North Carolina State, a speedy and nimble All-American offensive tackle; and Evan Neal of Alabama, who over three seasons with the Crimson Tide played left guard and both tackle positions.
Travon Walker, a defensive lineman from Georgia and another contender to be picked first overall, will participate remotely. This year’s first round is expected to be low on quarterbacks: Only Liberty’s Malik Willis and Mississippi’s Matt Corral will be on hand in Las Vegas, and most prospects at the position are projected to be taken after the first round. The Carolina Panthers, the No. 6 overall pick, are thought to be the first team that may select a quarterback.
But with no consensus over the first few picks of the first round, prepare for surprises.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.