The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 23, 2013

NFL draft: 10 things to watch for during draft

— NEW YORK (AP) — Since 1936, the NFL has picked the best of college football to join the pro league. From the very first pick — Jay Berwanger, who also was the first bust, never playing a down in the NFL — to last year's No. 1, Andrew Luck, the draft has always offered plenty of intrigue for teams and fans.

Here are 10 things to watch for during the three-day NFL draft beginning Thursday night:

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COMMISSIONER HUGGY BEAR

How many hugs can Roger Goodell endure from all the burly offensive and defensive players expected to be selected in the first round? Last year, he embraced many first-round picks who took the stage and was nearly hugged into submission by the likes of Fletcher Cox, Dontari Poe and Melvin Ingram.

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SHOW ME A QUARTERBACK

Will any quarterbacks be taken in the first round? Possibilities include Geno Smith, Matt Barkley and EJ Manuel, but this is far from the glamour year of 2012, when QBs were huge: Luck, No. 1; Robert Griffin III, No. 2; Ryan Tannehill (No. 8); Brandon Weeden (No. 22). The last time no quarterback was taken in round one was 1996 (Tony Banks was a second-rounder, No. 42, by the Rams); the last time only one was taken was 2001 (Michael Vick, first overall) and the last time two were taken was 2010 (Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow).

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FASHION STATEMENT

Fashionistas surely will be tracking the expensive, colorful designer suits, hairstyles (think dreadlocks) and even socks of the draftees as they take the stage after being selected. (Think Griffin, the Redskins' top pick in 2012, who wore a baby blue jacket, checkered-patterned shirt, purplish tie with horizontal stripes, and burgundy and gold socks with the words "GO CATCH YOUR DREAM."

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TE'O TIME

When that will be exactly is anyone's guess. Some analysts have Notre Dame's All-American linebacker Manti Te'o back to being a first-round cinch, even after a great season was marred by a poor game against Alabama followed by the hoax involving a deceased "girlfriend." He did not perform well at the NFL combine, but did better at pro day in South Bend.

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