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April 22, 2013

An NFL Draft primer, and what happens behind the scenes

This much you know: The three-day NFL Draft, 2013 Edition, starts on Thursday. And by virtue of the 2-14 record they compiled in 2012, the Chiefs hold the number one overall pick.

This much you know: The three-day NFL Draft, 2013 Edition, starts on Thursday at 7 p.m. CT. And by virtue of the 2-14 record they compiled in 2012, the Chiefs hold the number one overall pick.

But what exactly happens on draft night? For that matter, in the days leading up to the draft?

Here are a few things to remember as the Chiefs and the NFL’s other 31 teams get ready for one of the premiere happenings in the sport’s offseason.

First off, neither new general manager John Dorsey nor new head coach Andy Reid will attend the draft itself. Rather, they’ll remain here in Kansas City alongside — or at least nearby — dozens of fans attending the Chiefs’ annual draft party at Arrowhead Stadium.

That’s customary. While throngs of NFL and media personnel (not to mention select players and thousands of fans) crowd into Radio City Music Hall in New York, Dorsey and Reid will make their level-headed selections inside a sequestered “war room” at One Arrowhead Drive.

Assuming they don’t trade away the top pick, they’ll relay their choice to New York, where the name of the NFL’s newest millionaire will be read aloud onstage by league commissioner Roger Goodell.

At that point, the player they’ve selected will be summoned from the green room to man-hug Goodell, don a Chiefs cap and pose for photographs holding a jersey before being whisked to a podium to field questions from reporters.

Soon after, the next selection will be made by the team picking second overall (at this point, barring a trade, that would be the Chiefs’ first opponent of the 2013 season: the Jacksonville Jaguars).

And so it will go, one after another — some picks bringing cheers, others prompting groans. Other than the Tampa Bay Bucs, Washington and Seattle Seahawks, who traded their top picks to the New York Jets, St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings, respectively, all teams will have one first-round selection Thursday night. They’ll each have 10 minutes to complete their selection and get it to Goodell’s league associates ... or the draft will move on without them.

On Friday, when the Chiefs are currently slated to make one selection (that’d be in round three; they have no second-round pick at the moment, though, again, this could change in a trade), that time limit will drop to seven minutes per pick in round two and five minutes per pick in round three. The rounds are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. CT.

Rounds four through seven, governed by a five-minute-per-pick time restriction, are scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Saturday CT.

So will anyone be watching the draft? Indeed, millions will. ESPN drew a total of 2.9 million viewers last year, a sharp increase from the previous year. And the NFL Network finished with a three-day average of 757,000 viewers, a steady climb from 2011.

So far, the list of players who’ve told the league they plan to be on hand for day one of the draft stands at 23. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina

Eric Fisher, T, Central Michigan

Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

D.J. Fluker, T, Alabama

Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M

Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma

Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State

Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

Barkevious Mingo, DE, Louisiana State

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

Eric Reid, S, Louisiana State

Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

Chance Warmack, G, Alabama

Menelik Watson, T, Florida State

Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

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