After months of buildup and intrigue, the 2015 NFL Draft is here. As the first round unfolds on Thursday night, expect the unexpected. To help guide you through the first 32 picks, here are the five key storylines of the first round:
The action at No. 2
Jameis Winston of Florida State has been the prohibitive choice at No. 1 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for months. After that the fun starts. The Tennessee Titans hold the No. 2 pick in the draft. It's expected that Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will be the selection with that pick. The unknown is if Tennessee will be the one making the pick. It seems there are three teams in play to trade for that pick – Cleveland, Philadelphia and San Diego.
Cleveland has the most straight-forward path to trading for the pick because the team has picks Nos. 12 and 19. That may not be enough to move all the way up to No. 2, however. Is Cleveland willing to send next year's first-round pick to Tennessee to finish off the deal? San Diego's deal would have to include veteran quarterback Philip Rivers and pick No. 17 in this year's draft. Philadelphia and head coach Chip Kelly probably have the most thirst to move up. The Eagles, though, are all the way down at pick No. 20. They could try and send quarterback Sam Bradford to Cleveland for a first-round pick. That would give them two first-round picks and some veterans like linebacker Mychal Kendricks and guard Evan Mathis to Tennessee.
Ordering of key positions
It's likely we'll see runs at a few positions in the first round, namely at cornerback, offensive tackle, pass rusher and wide receiver. In most mock drafts we've seen a similar order at these positions. Don't be shocked when players at these positions – all key spots on a team – are ordered differently than how we expect. For instance, arguably four different cornerbacks could be the first one selected. The same can be said of offensive tackles. Some teams will prefer Stanford's Andrus Peat while others give preference to Iowa's Brandon Scherff or Miami's Ereck Flowers.
There are a handful of highly talented prospects who could land anywhere in the first round, or completely fall out of the first 32 picks. Among them are offensive lineman La'el Collins, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, pass rusher Randy Gregory, cornerback Marcus Peters and pass rusher Shane Ray. Green-Beckham is particularly intriguing. Some teams have him graded out as a top 10 pick, but it's highly unlikely he goes that high. Peters is the draft's best cornerback, but some teams will be wary after he was kicked off Washington's football team for arguing with coaches. If these players stay on the straight and narrow as professionals, some teams will be getting steals.
A third quarterback in the first round?
The gap between Winston and Mariota and the draft's third-best quarterback is wide. But since it's far and away the most important position in the game, it shouldn't be a surprise if a third quarterback goes in the first round. Some prefer Baylor's Bryce Petty, whom Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel projects as being the choice for the New Orleans Saints at No. 31. Brett Hundley of UCLA could get some consideration as well.
So far we've already seen two picks in the first round moved. Buffalo sent what turned out to be pick No. 19 to the Browns to get wide receiver Sammy Watkins last year. Seattle acquired tight end Jimmy Graham from New Orleans for No. 31. Expect more first-round trades to happen. Last year nine picks were made by a team different from the one initially scheduled to make the pick. In 2013, that number was 11. In a draft that is considered good but not great, teams will be targeting the players they want, especially when we start to see some of those runs happen. There could especially be action high in the draft. Washington could move off No. 5, for instance, because new general manager Scot McCloughan covets more picks. Minnesota, which has pick No. 11, is always looking to move. Don't be shocked if Minnesota again ends up having two first-round picks.