The biggest event of the offseason takes place in Las Vegas over three days from Thursday April 28 to Saturday April 30 as the NFL Draft takes centre stage under the city's bright lights. And you can follow all of the action as the leading college football players from across America hear their names called by the league's 32 teams.
Las Vegas was due to host the NFL Draft in 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic forced the annual selection process to be conducted from the basement of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's home in New York.
This time around, Vegas is ready to put on a show with more than 750,000 fans expected to be in attendance on the famous strip to witness draft prospects arriving for their big night on floating gondolas.
The NFL Draft comes at the end of the most headline-filled offseason in history. Over the past few months, NFL fans have seen quarterbacks Russell Wilson traded from Seattle to Denver and Deshaun Watson from Houston to Cleveland, while star receivers Davante Adams (Green Bay to Las Vegas) and Tyreek Hill (Kansas City to Miami) have also been on the move. Add in Aaron Rodgers' renewed commitment to the Green Bay Packers and Tom Brady's unretirement in Tampa and you get a sense of the offseason craziness.
The headlines will continue to be written in Las Vegas as the 2022 NFL Draft represents a time of great hope and excitement for fans. But there can also be nervousness among the teams as they try to assess if top college players can make the leap to the game's highest level.
Get it wrong and general managers, scouts and even head coaches can pay with their jobs. Get it right and your team could emulate the Cincinnati Bengals, who went from just four wins in 2020 all the way to the Super Bowl last season; courtesy of strong play from young first-round draft picks in quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase.
Forget the high rollers. This week in Las Vegas will be all about the high drama as the NFL Draft gets underway. So, let's dig into the most eagerly-anticipated event of the NFL offseason.
How does it work?
Teams take turns to select the best college players on offer over seven rounds spread across three days. The worst team from the previous season, the Jacksonville Jaguars, pick first, all the way up to the reigning Super Bowl champion picking last. Although, in this instance, the Los Angeles Rams do not own the 32nd overall selection having traded that away last season to grab quarterback Matthew Stafford. Round one of the NFL Draft takes place on Thursday night/Friday morning, with the all-important first selection being made around 1am UK time. Rounds two and three begin at midnight UK time on Friday April 29. Rounds four through seven take place on Saturday April 30, beginning at 5pm UK time.
All about the picks
NFL Draft selections are often described as lottery tickets, because teams take educated and well-researched gambles on prospects in the hope that they pan out and succeed in the NFL. That is fitting given that this year's NFL Draft is taking place in Las Vegas. Picks can be traded before and during the NFL Draft, which is why eight teams don't have a first-round selection in 2022 and eight teams have two first-round choices each. Kansas City and Jacksonville lead the way with 12 picks each, while Miami have the least selections with just four. Keep an eye on the New York Jets, who are the only NFL team with four picks in the top 50, sitting at four, 10, 35 and 38.
Strength of the Draft
NFL Drafts are so often about the quarterbacks. Of the 21 drafts that have taken place already this century, 16 have been topped by a quarterback going first overall. A quarterback has been taken first overall in each of the last four drafts. Last year, quarterbacks went off the board in each of the first three picks as Trevor Lawrence was taken by Jacksonville, Zach Wilson went to the New York Jets and Trey Lance was the choice of the San Francisco 49ers at number three.
This year, there could be a desperation-filled run on quarterbacks but this group is not expected to top the NFL Draft. This is thought to be a good year for edge rushers (many pundits are predicting the first three picks will be pass-rushers), offensive tackles and wide receivers, with as many as seven wideouts in with a shot at being taken in round one.
The Sky Sports NFL channel will return to your screens for two weeks from Monday April 25, featuring home-grown content alongside familiar favourites from the NFL Network and NBC such as Good Morning Football and ProFootball Talk Live.
On Thursday April 28, I will be presenting a live two-hour preview show from Las Vegas alongside our resident coach, Jeff Reinebold. We will be on air from 9pm UK time and will be joined by a host of big-name guests from the United States, as well as the prospects who are about to have their dreams of reaching the NFL realised.
As well as bringing you every pick of every round live on Sky Sports NFL over the three days, there will be additional programming that breaks down the news from Nevada.
At 9pm on Friday April 29, myself and Jeff will bring you a one-hour show from Las Vegas that wraps up the opening round and looks ahead to day two. And, finally, on Monday May 2, we will present a one-hour show that looks back on the entire draft weekend.
NFL Game Pass
NFL fans in the UK have the exciting opportunity to access all the coverage of the 2022 NFL Draft live and on-demand with NFL Game Pass.
With NFL Game Pass, you can catch every single pick of the NFL Draft live and on-demand. At a low price of £7.99 you can see every pick as it happens, in one of the most exciting weekends of the NFL year.
- Watch all the picks live as they come through, with full day coverage from Thursday to Saturday
- Watch Saturday's action of Rounds 4-7 for free with NFL Game Pass Free
- NFL Network Coverage 24/7 providing all the analysis of every pick
- Draft Round 1 in 40', available on Friday morning which shows the highlights of the first round in a condensed 40 minutes, available for free with NFL Game Pass Free
- Draft in 40', available on Sunday morning which shows the highlights of the full draft, in a condensed 40 minutes, available for free with NFL Game Pass Free
- Selection of VOD content around the Draft, including Path to the Draft, Move the Sticks, Around the NFL, Mock Draft Live and much more!
Additional Exclusive NFL Game Pass content including Top Moments from the first round, Top celebrations from the first round, Top 10 picks in 10 minutes, and the best highlights and celebrations of rounds 2-3