The drama starts tonight, and we get a front row for the laughs and the tears as the future stars meet their new teams. This is what you need to know ...
1. It's a three-day extravaganza: The NFL went to the longer format last season, and will start again this year with the first round on Thursday night. It's a reality show mixed with the drama of a play, all staged live at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
2. It's fan-friendly: The NFL draft is a spectator sport. Jersey-clad fans line up hours before the start so they can cheer -- or boo -- their team's picks, NFL personalities and commissioner Roger Goodell.
3. Who is No. 1? The rookie salary cap is one of the items that could be dramatically revised in any new collective bargaining agreement, which this draft class would fall under. As such, first-rounders will probably not get the grand paydays of the past. But it's still great to be No. 1.
4. Check the suits: A lot of young men who can't fit their frames into off-the-rack sizes get their first custom-made suits to walk across the stage at Radio City. Rookies can get pretty creative with their gear, with varying rates of success.
5. Backward year: Usually teams shore up their team through free agency and then put the finishing touches on the roster during the draft. This year, with free agency halted during the recently lifted lockout, teams will draft first, sign free agents later. So the topsy-turvy limbo of the lockout could lead to some interesting choices.