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Here's your Texas-style 2018 NFL Draft guide

Preview of the 2018 NFL Draft Theater at AT&T Stadium in Arlington

Preview of the 2018 NFL Draft Theater, which is being built on the field of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. This is the first time, the Draft is taking place at an NFL stadium.
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Preview of the 2018 NFL Draft Theater, which is being built on the field of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. This is the first time, the Draft is taking place at an NFL stadium.

Welcome to the 2018 NFL Draft: Texas style.

The 2018 NFL Draft will be held Thursday through Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Dallas Cowboys are the host team.

This will be the first time the event, in its 83rd year, will be held at an NFL Stadium and it's the first time being held in Texas. New York has hosted the event the most with 57.

Last year, the NFL Draft was held at Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, incorporating famed city landmarks spanning from Philadelphia City Hall to the iconic steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Star-Telegram reporter Lena Blietz takes you on a quick tour of what you'll be seeing on Thursday at the NFL Draft.

"Philadelphia raised the bar by taking the draft to another level, and this new opportunity in Dallas will enable us to continue the event's evolution and grow it even further," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

Wait a minute!

In Texas, that sounds like a challenge.

"We really think we have come up with an incredible idea and concept that will really make AT&T Stadium shine but will also deliver a unique experience that is unlike anything that you have seen so far at the NFL Draft,” said Cowboys executive vice president/chief brand officer Charlotte Jones Anderson.

Now that's more like it.

Here is your guide to one of the NFL’s premier events:

The fans

All 50 states and 32 NFL teams will be represented in some colorful and likely vocal way. A free lottery was held prior to the draft and more than 215,000 fans registered, which was a 31 percent increase over the past year and the highest number for any draft event over the same period of time.

A record-setting 250,000 fans attended the three-day 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia.

Arlington is anticipating 270,000-plus for the three-day event.

Also for the first time, every team will send some of their most passionate fans to sit in the "inner circle”, an exclusive seating area on the field for select fans. The area features team rivalry zones, chances to celebrate the picks with players and legends.

On Saturday, April 28, a pair of Super Bowl tickets will be given away to fans attending the NFL Draft Experience. Fans in attendance on Saturday will also be randomly selected to make draft picks from the podium of the NFL Draft Theater.

Crews are busy at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, preparing for the NFL Draft 2018, taking place April 26-28.

The NFL Draft Fan Experience

It’s free. It’s fun. It’s exciting.

The NFL Draft Experience will be held at the outdoor plazas of AT&T Stadium. There is a plaza in each end zone, along with three party desks.

There will be interactive exhibits, games, virtual reality, free autograph sessions and more.

HOURS OF OPERATION:

Thursday, April 26: Noon to 10 p.m.

Friday, April 27: Noon to 10 p.m.

Saturday, April 28: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

COMBINE CORNER

Fans can test their skills in the vertical jump, 40-yard dash, Hail Mary and obstacle course, and passing drills.

NFL PLAY 60 Zone

Gear Up & Go: Try on NFL equipment and feel what it’s like to get dressed for gameday.

Kids’ Extra Point Kick: Test your ability to kick a field goal through scaled down NFL uprights.

Kids’ Long Snap: Test your ability to snap the ball like a pro.

Kids’ Quarterback Challenge: Test your passing skills.

NFL PLAY 60 App Station: Run, jump and turn through a simulated world.

NFL PLAY 60 Zone Obstacle Course: Race through agility drills just like the pros and test your high jump abilities, leap over obstacles and bob and weave through mini tackling dummies.

NFL RUSH Gameday: Experience gameday with an app designed for kids to play fun games, customize their own avatars, watch videos, and unlock digital gear from their favorite teams.

Play Football Field:On-field clinics are open to boys and girls ages 6-17. Daily clinics open on a first-come, first-served basis. Thursday, April 26: Noon to 9 p.m. Friday, April 27: Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 28: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

OTHER OPTIONS

Vince Lombardi Trophy: Fans can take their photo with one of the five Super Bowl trophies from the Dallas Cowboys.

Locker Room: Visit a replica NFL locker room

NFL Helmet: Find your favorite oversized helmet and have your photo taken. This is a very popular stop.

Autograph Stage: Free autographs from current NFL players and NFL legends.

NFL Museum: The NFL Museum features memorabilia and bronze busts of some Cowboys greats. You can also get your own bronze bust digitized at the Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibit.

College Football Corner: View College Football Hall of Fame memorabilia from former first-round draft picks and Cowboys legends, and cheer on Draft prospects from your favorite college team. Life size player mannequins offer unique photo opportunities.

NFL Draft Set: Visit the official NFL Draft set and take your spot behind the podium.

ESPN Set: Check out SportsCenter LIVE from NFL Draft Experience.

NFL Network Desk: Take your seat behind the NFL Network Total Access desk.

NFL Draft Experience Tailgate: Enjoy selections from some of North Texas’ best restaurants in a “taste of the town” tailgate.

Music Stage:Visit the stage featuring appearances by NFL team mascots, cheerleaders and drumlines and local musical talent.

Bud Light Ice House: The hottest place to drink the coldest beer..

NFL Auction: Stop by the NFL Auction in the NFL Museum for giveaways and chances to win NFL instant prizes by checking in with your Fan Mobile Pass. View game worn and signed memorabilia available only on the NFL Auction website, and learn about the charities and foundations that the NFL and NFL Auction support.

Look Like A Pro: Step inside a uniformed body-cast mold bearing the insignia of your favorite NFL team and have a friend snap your photo.

NFL Shop at Draft: The largest assortment of NFL Draft merchandise, including customizable Nike jerseys, the official 2018 NFL Draft Cap by New Era and exclusive Draft gear. NFL Virtual Reality: Experience NFL games using virtual reality technology.

The Dallas Cowboys have the 19th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on April 26-28. These are the 15 guys most likely to end up in Dallas, according to draft experts.

Texas Social Media Central

Dallas Cowboys beat writers Clarence E. Hill Jr. and Drew Davison of the The Fort Worth Star-Telegram will be at The Star in Frisco, but will be offering insight on the draft through Facebook Live and Twitter.

Hill is the dean of NFL sports writers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

@clarencehilljr

@drewdavison

@startelegram

Want more? Visit the Star-Telegram's draft page to get caught up in all the draft news (http://www.star-telegram.com/topics/nfl-draft).

NFL draft tracker

Time is money.

It takes time to sort through hundreds of prospects, build a draft board and then come to a consensus in the War Rooms in a matter of minutes.

The first round begins at 7 p.m. and will end at approximately 10:30 p.m. Rounds 2-3 on Day 2 begin at 6 p.m. and should end around 10:30 p.m. The final day begins at 11 a.m. will conclude approximately 5;30 p.m.

The draft order is as follows: 1. Cleveland. 2. New York Giants. 3. New York Jets. 4. Cleveland. 5. Denver. 6. Indianapolis. 7. Tampa Bay. 8. Chicago. 9. San Francisco. 10. Oakland. 11. Miami. 12. Buffalo. 13. Washington. 14. Green Bay. 15. Arizona. 16. Baltimore. 17. Los Angeles Chargers. 18. Seattle. 19. Dallas. 20. Detroit. 21. Cincinnati. 22. Buffalo. 23. New England. 24. Carolina. 25. Tennessee. 26. Atlanta. 27. New Orleans. 28. Pittsburgh. 29. Jacksonville. 30. Minnesota. 31. New England. 32. Philadelphia. Order is subject to change.

Here's how to track each draft pick: NFL tracker.

In the meantime, here's the time schedule for the draft.

The first round of the draft on Thursday will have 10 minutes per selection.

Round 2 will have 7 minutes per selection.

Rounds 3-6, including compensatory picks will be 5 minutes per selection.

Round 7, including compensatory picks, will have 4 minutes per selection.

What's a compensatory pick?

A team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks.

The compensatory picks will be positioned within the third through seventh rounds based on the value of the compensatory free agents lost. They are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors.

Fifteen teams received compensatory picks. Dallas, Green Bay, Cincinnati and Oakland lead the way with four each. Houston and Arizona each have three. Minnesota has two. Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Kansas City, Los Angeles Chargers, New England, New York Giants and Tampa Bay have one each.

Mr. Goodell's reception

Roger Goodell.

Ok. Stop booing. He's not even in town yet. At least, I don't think he's in town yet.

Goodell has not endeared himself to the Texas locals.

His battle with Jerry Jones during the 2017 season is well documented.

His role, or lack of a definitive role, in the Ezekiel Elliott suspension saga didn't go over well.

Some fans in these parts are blaming him for the Dez Bryant catch/non-catch that became a catch two years after it was a non-catch.

That's a mouthful.

As with tradition, Goodell will be announcing all the first-round selections.

That is, if you can hear him.

Some NFL prospects train at ACCELERATE Performance Enhancement Center as they get ready for the NFL Combine and the the draft. Malik Jefferson, Nick Orr, Evan Brown and Keke Coutee are among the group.

Mr. Irrelevant

There are 256 selections scheduled in the NFL Draft.

The 256th or final pick, is known as Mr. Irrelevant.

The name is a misnomer.

Yes, it's the final person selected, but the player is far from irrelevant.

The player is feted by celebrities and has a week-long celebration in his honor in Newport Beach. California. A trip to Disneyland is usually included.

A jersey, which has his selection number and "Mr. Irrelevant" stitched on it, and a trophy are some of the awards.

So when the final pick is in, don't snicker.

He'll be getting a lot more than any free agent.

In the beginning ...

The first documented NFL Draft was held February 8, 1936 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia, according to Total Football, the official encyclopedia of the NFL.

The first player selected was Heisman Trophy winner Jay Berwanger, a halftback out of the University of Chicago, by the Eagles. The Eagles then traded him to the Chicago Bears.

However, he never signed with the Eagles or Bears.

No. 2 overall pick Riley Smith, a halfback from Alabama, signed and played with the Boston Bruins.

Former NFL Commissioner and club owner Bert Bell is credited with instituting the college draft. He was also former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles.

Roll Tide

When you win national championships the way the University of Alabama has, that usually means you have players.

Good players.

Alabama has the second longest streak of consecutive seasons with a first-round pick since 1967 with nine. They are tied with Florida. Miami holds the record with 14.

Alabama's streak is still active and will likely be extended in this year's draft.

Here's a look at the top streaks since 1967

14 Miami 1995-2008

9 Alabama 2009-2017*

9 Florida 1983-1991

7 Pittsburgh 1983-1989

7 Ohio State 1991-1997

State bragging rights

Which state will have the most players selected in the draft?

Last year, the winner was ... Georgia.

The state of Georgia had 29 players drafted in 2017.

The rest of the top 10 included Florida (27), California (26), Texas (24), Louisiana (16), Ohio (16), Pennsylvania (11), Illinois 10, Alabama (9), North Carolina (9) and New Jersey (9).

If you take in per capita using the 2010 census, Louisiana was first.

How rare is it to be drafted in the NFL?

One in every 1,225,181 people get drafted in the NFL.

Eyes on the draft

The NFL knows everything is done in a big way when it comes to football in Texas and they've decided to keep up with the Jones.

For the first time, all seven rounds of the NFL Draft will be on broadcast television.

The NFL Network and Fox will team up to simulcast live coverage of the three rounds of the NFL Draft.

The league has expanded its partnership with ESPN/ABC whereby ESPN2 will supplement ESPN's coverage of Round 1 with a separate and unique college-themed production in addition to a simulcast of ESPN's live coverage of Rounds 4-7 airing on ABC.

And there is a bonus. Hall of Famer and former Dallas Cowboys great Troy Aikman, the Fox lead analyst, is joining the draft coverage.

The expanded coverage gives the NFL Draft its largest audience reach ever, and marks the first time ever that the entirety of the live three-day event will air on broadcast television.

Live streaming of the 2018 NFL Draft coverage will be available across devices (smartphone, PC, tablet and connected TVs) through the NFL app or NFL.com. Fans can also stream the draft through FOX Sports and the ESPN App, available for subscribers of the networks' participating TV providers.

As for broadcast TV, Thursday's first round will be on NFL Network, Fox, ESPN, ESPN 2 and ESPN Deportes. Friday's second round will be on the same channels except ESPN Deportes. The final day of the draft is on NFL Network, ABC and ESPN.

As for digital properties, NFL, Fox Sports and ESPN will have coverage Thursday and Friday while NFL and ESPN will cover Saturday.

Hungry? Try these locations

After a long day of absorbing the excitement of the NFL Draft, it's time to get something to eat.

Here are some places to consider while in the area. We'll focus primarily on football food. In Texas, tacos are football food too:

Burgers

BurgerFi, in Champions Park, 1807 N Collins St, Arlington.

Tom's Burgers & Grill. Perennial contender in our Burger Battles. 1530 N Cooper St, Arlington. A freeway exit away and not exactly walkable, But cool diner-style set-up (it's in an old Denny's Diner).

Airways Burger, 1106 N Collins St. Never been there and reviews are decidedly mixed, but it is practically across Collins from the stadium.

Pizza

Urban Bricks Pizza, 1707 N Collins St. Suite 101, in Champions Park. Opened a couple of weeks ago. Casual, "Neapolitan" (very thin crust, cooked quickly, soft in the middle) style pizza.

Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza, 841 E Lamar Blvd, Arlington. Line up, choose your ingredients, build your own pizza or order specialty pizzas.

Gino's East, 1350 E Copeland Road, Arlington. Probably the closest to true Chicago deep-dish you can get in Tarrant County -- but pizzas can take 45 minutes to make, so make sure you have time.

Tacos

Torchy's Tacos, 1805 N Collins St Suite 151 in Champions Park. Austin-based chain with overstuffed tacos and terrific green-chile queso. The tacos are OK.

Marquez Bakery & Tortilla Factory, 1730 E. Division Street, Arlington, is the best part of any trip to the stadium. Fresh, housemade tortillas and tamales, inexpensive platters and great green sauce.

Mariano's Hacienda, 2614 Majesty Drive, Arlington, is legendary for one very big reason: Mariano Martinez invented the frozen margarita. It upholds the legacy of 1980s fajitas-and-swirls restaurants, but it's showing its years.

Bonus

And if you have some gas money, drive over to Fort Worth and hit these location:

Fort Worth Burgers

Fred's Texas Cafe, 915 Currie St, Fort Worth, or 3509 Blue Bonnet Cir, Fort Worth.

Tacos

Salsa Limon, 550 Throckmorton St. or 5012 White Settlement Road. Authentic Mexican street-style tacos. Throckmorton location is, well, downtown and most convenient to Arlington. There's video too.

Pizza

Cane Rosso Fort Worth, 815 W Magnolia Ave, Fort Worth. More Neapolitan pizza, but more authentic. If you like downtown, swing by Picchi Pacchi at 411 West Seventh Street.

NFL partners



The NFL has a lot of "official" business partners and many of them will be on display at the draft.

There will be "official" hats, jerseys, drinks, food, ect., of the NFL.

Now the league has an official sleep partner.

Everyone could use a good night's sleep.

Now comes Sleep Number, which uses biometric sleep tracking data and promotes quality sleep.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Ryan Switzer, kicker Dan Bailey and offensive tackle Tyron Smith are spokesmen for the product. In full disclosure, each received a Sleep Number bed.

Did you know Switzer targets seven hours of sleep during the regular season and emnjoys watching romantic comedies or moves with a love story on the night before a game?

Bailey targets the standard eight hours of sleep while Smith references the healing process involved in a good night's sleep.

With a busy three days of draft activity, it's time to say goodnight.

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