Most observers expect Virginia Tech QB Michael Vick to be the first player off the board on the 21st
So, where will you be for the 66th Annual National Football League Player Selection Meeting?
Oh, sorry…we mean The Draft.
The league's official name for the weekend of April 21 and 22, 2001 might be a bit unfamiliar, but every NFL fan knows what's coming. Between the final gun of the Super Bowl in January and the reporting date of the first team training camp, it is the most exciting two days on the calendar for anyone immersed in the National Football League.
And here are the particulars, as distributed by the NFL on Monday, just 12 days before San Diego (one presumes) goes on the clock at noon on this most critical Saturday.
Though most of the important work is done in 'War Rooms' across the country, the draft is officially held in The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. As usual, that setting is open to a certain amount of fans – approximately 4,000 this year – a usually vocal group that always has a New York bent to it. Assuming you won't be in a seat at the Garden, you'll want to catch the action live on ESPN from noon until 7:00 p.m. on Saturday. The coverage will switch to ESPN2 at that time until the conclusion of the first day, switch back to ESPN for the first two hours on Sunday then finish up on ESPN2.
The first round will kick off at noon, with the Chargers on the clock. In that opening round, each team is given up to 15 minutes to make its selection; that time limit drops to 10 minutes per pick in round two and five minutes in each round thereafter. Thus, the opening round on Saturday could theoretically 7 hours and 45 minutes, though that is highly unlikely.
It is, however, a very long round. Last year, the first round consumed five hours and 30 minutes. In the second round, the time commitment dropped to two hours and 52 minutes, while the third round took one hour and 33 minutes. That's a common pattern, and it takes the first day of the draft right up to its approximate ending time of 10:00 p.m. The draft reconvenes at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday for rounds four through seven, which generally ends around 5:00 p.m.
Due to compensatory selections, the draft will include 246 selections. Whoever Arizona chooses with the final compensatory pick in the seventh round late Sunday afternoon will be this year's Mr. Irrelevant, as the last pick is affectionately known. Currently, St. Louis (20 and 29) and Seattle (7 and 17) have two picks each in the first round. Their double duty comes at the expense of Tennessee, which traded pick #29 to St. Louis for DE Kevin Carter, and Dallas, which traded two first-round picks to Seattle last year for WR Joey Galloway.
The Theater floor will include several representatives from each of the participating 31 NFL clubs (the new Houston Texans franchise will begin drafting next year), with each station tied into its own war room back home via a phone line that is kept open the entire weekend.
If the Buccaneers remain at pick number 21, they would make their first choice no later than 5:15 p.m. However, if one extrapolates off last year's first-round running time, the 21st pick would occur at approximately 3:30 p.m. You can follow the draft right here in the 2001 Buccaneers Draft Central section, complete with pick-by-pick coverage, or visit the NFL.com's draft area.
Here on Buccaneers.com, we will carry any and all press conferences from team headquarters live. You'll also hear from the newest Buccaneers and find complete biographical information. Now that you know when, where and how, we'll see you hear on 'selection weekend'.