The NFL draft is one of the highlights of the US sporting calendar, as the league’s 32 teams set their stall out for the coming season.
It gives last year’s lesser lights the chance to bolster their ranks with the most glittering young talents in the sport, while the likes of Super Bowl winners the New England Patriots will look to consolidate their strength with canny picks.
However, the NFL’s ever-growing legion of UK fans will have to prepare for a few sleepless nights to catch the action – here’s everything you need to know.
When is the NFL draft 2019?
The NFL Draft 2019 takes place between 25 and 27 April, at First & Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee.
It all kicks off at 8pm ET on Thursday night – 1am on Friday morning in the UK – with the first round.
On day two, which comprises rounds two and three, the Draft starts at 7.00pm ET (12am in the UK)
The action then comes to a close with the final four rounds on Saturday, starting from 12pm ET (5pm UK time).
How to watch
You can watch all three days of the NFL Draft live on Sky Sports Action, with the action kicking off from 12.30am on Friday.
Coverage of day two starts at 11.00pm, with the final rounds broadcast from 8pm (red button viewers can watch from 5pm).
There is also a Day One Review Show at 9pm on Friday, and an overall Draft Review at the same time on Monday night.
You can also catch a live stream on the Sky Go app and through the NFL Game Pass.
How does the NFL draft work?
The NFL Draft is a yearly opportunity for teams to improve their roster by selecting the best talent from the college game, with 254 picks in total.
Across the seven rounds, each of the 32 NFL teams gets one selection per round and, barring any trades, the order of selection is determined by the reverse order of finish in the previous round.
Typically, each round starts with a pick from the team with the worst record, with the Super Bowl champions picking last.
Whilst there are no transfers in the Draft, there are trades whereby teams can swap picks. Teams may negotiate trades at any time before or during the draft and can swap draft picks or current NFL players to whom they hold the rights.
The picks to look out for
Neil Reynolds, who presents NFL coverage on Sky Sports, has picked out some of the key narratives of the draft to look out for:
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray is set to make American sports history by becoming the first athlete to be selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball and NFL Drafts. He was the ninth overall selection of the Oakland As baseball team in 2018 and will be a sure-fire top 10 pick in the NFL. The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner (the prize given to college football’s best player) is actually the favourite to be the first overall selection when the Arizona Cardinals are on the clock with the top pick.
The most defensive players taken in round one is 19 in 2006 and 2017. This year could see that number topped and a large number of the defenders taken in the opening round are going to be big men who specialize in hunting quarterbacks. This is one of the best defensive line classes in recent NFL history with the likes of Quinnen Williams (Alabama), Nick Bosa (Ohio State), Ed Oliver (Houston) and Rashan Gary (Michigan) heading up a rookie group set to make an immediate NFL impact.
Two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning is coming towards the end of his career as quarterback of the New York Giants, but when will the team finally pull the trigger and begin the succession plan? The Giants have two first round selections in which to address the position and reportedly like Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State) and Daniel Jones (Duke), the latter of whom has close links to the Manning family having been tutored by Peyton and Eli’s quarterback coach David Cutcliffe.
‘The Scottish Hammer’
Arkansas Pine-Bluff kicker/punter Jamie Gillan is gaining national attention across the United States ahead of the NFL Draft and has been dubbed ‘The Scottish Hammer.’ The Highlands native bought four NFL balls to practice ahead of the draft and burst every single one of them. He looks set to be a kickoff specialist and a punter in the NFL, putting his Scottish rugby experience to good use.
The 2019 NFL Draft begins this Friday at 1am BST and is available to viewers on NFL Game Pass and Sky Sports