It's Thursday afternoon in Manhattan, and there's much more activity on the bustling sidewalk across the street from Radio City Music Hall than inside what will serve as NFL Draft headquarters for the next three days. Still, even before the Music Hall opens its doors to fans, league officials and representatives from all 32 NFL teams, it is already filling up with a palpable sense of anticipation.
There is certainly no lack of draft activity around the league, but most of it is taking place quietly behind closed doors, over telephone and e-mail connections. The show - the hugely popular televised spectacle that is the annual NFL Draft - won't begin for several more hours. Radio City Music Hall is experiencing the quiet before the storm.
There is no doubt something is about to happen, however. A clutch of NFL fans spent the early afternoon milling around in front of the building - three Steelers fans over here, a group of local Jets supporters over there, and even a pair of Tampa Bay Buccaneers rooters from Orlando. Todd Tinetti and Meghan Dougherty had already planned their trip to New York when they found out it would coincide with the NFL Draft; that prompted a seven-hour online session Wednesday night in search of tickets.
It's obvious the 75th draft in NFL history is a huge event.
The dozen or so top prospects who agreed to attend the first round of the draft in person on Thursday wait nervously nearby. All can fully expect to be taken among Thursday's 32 picks, but there is still plenty of intrigue as to exactly where each will fall. That's even true of the very first picks in the draft, as the St. Louis Rams, holding the first overall pick, have yet to tip their hand. Unlike what took place before the last two drafts, the Rams have chosen not to sign their presumptive first pick before the draft begins, maintaining an air of mystery around the top few selections.
It is that mystery that has deepened the sense of anticipation here in New York, as analysts search for any information that will help with their predictions, teams prepare their various contingency strategies and fans with tickets into the Music Hall expecting plenty of on-the-fly intrigue.
The Radio City Music Hall doors will open for all participants at 4:30 p.m. ET. Media will set up shop inside and, more importantly, representatives from the 32 teams will stake out their locations. In front of the hall's massive, curved stage - dotted front and center by that ubiquitous podium - are rows of small tables, with designated spots for each club.
The equipment on those tables is simple but crucial. The on-site team reps will essentially utilize two items - an unbroken phone line back to their own club's draft room and a stack of index cards on which to write names.
For the first time ever, Buccaneers.com is a part of this scene. Following a prepared report from Radio City Music Hall at 2:00 p.m. ET, Buccaneers Insider will begin filing live reports from draft headquarters at 4:30 p.m. As anticipation turns into actual activity, Buccaneers.com will keep you abreast of everything taking place in New York, while additional teams report from One Buccaneer Place and the Official Draft Party Presented by Miller Lite at Raymond James Stadium.
The show hasn't yet begun, but the wait is almost ever.