It took months and it felt like years, but we are finally here. The first round of the 2014 NFL Draft is tonight and the Falcons, with the sixth overall pick, figure to be major players at the top. No one knows for sure what will happen, but this year’s player selection party could go down as one of the more interesting ones in recent years. The 2014 class is talented and deep and whatever name the Falcons call out first will surely be an impact player and one many in Falcons nation will embrace. As we get set for Thursday’s first round, here are five things to look out for in this year’s draft.
1) Clock Watching: Unlike in recent seasons, the Falcons select at the top and the reveal of their first round pick shouldn’t take too long. In the first round, each team will have 10 minutes to make their selection, putting the Falcons, if they stay at six, on the clock around 8:50 p.m. Of course, you may not want to wait until then to start watching the draft, because with general manager Thomas Dimitroff at the controls, one never knows what could happen. Don’t be the guy that turns on the draft an hour in only to miss a major trade and player acquisition. The second round, which begins on Friday evening, will have seven minutes between picks and the third round through the seventh each will take five minutes between selections.
2) Trades: The talent in this year’s draft means there will probably be a lot of jockeying for position. Teams typically target a few players, especially in the first round, and will often make a move if they fear he won’t fall to their original draft position. Dimitroff has managed a trade in each of the last six drafts and with 10 picks in this year’s draft, the streak will likely continue. While a trade by the Falcons means moving up for a key player or back for extra picks, other teams trades could also affect the Falcons. If a team moves up for a quarterback, for instance, other players will be pushed down the draft board, helping the Falcons find friendly scenarios throughout the draft.
3) Quarterback Market: Speaking of quarterbacks, there are three names you need to know. Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater figure to be the top three QBs taken and many analysts believe they’ll all be selected in the first round. If two or three of them are taken in the top five, the Falcons will definitely have one of their targets waiting for them at six. Other quarterback prospects, like Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo, could be taken at the top of the second round, or late in the first, pushing more players to the Falcons at the top of the second round. With their quarterback position solved, the Falcons have the luxury of being among a handful of teams that are still looking for an answer at QB.
4) Talent Depth: When the first round ends late Thursday night, there will still be plenty of quality players available. The 24 hours between the end of the first round and the beginning of the second Friday night will give teams plenty of time to evaluate their draft board. Second-round picks in any draft are generally starting-caliber players and this year is definitely no different. The wealth of talent in 2014 means there will be plenty of players whose names are called on Day 2 that can step in and be instant starters. There’s a good chance the Falcons will stick to their defensive and offensive lines with their first two picks, so based on that first pick, you may be able to get a pretty good idea of who the Falcons will target with their second pick.
5) AtlantaFalcons.com: Of course, while you’re watching the draft, don’t forget about our corner of the web. Follow all of the Falcons crew on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information on new Falcons draft picks as they occur. We’ve got members of AF.com back at the ranch in Flowery Branch and inside Radio City Music Hall in New York City. We’ll bring you updates from draft pick conference calls minutes after each pick and will generally try to make your draft experience as informative, engaging and enjoyable as possible. Keep us company, won’t you?